Friday, May 4, 2012

A Correction on the name for the Trinidad & Tobago Oxyrhopus

Oxyrhopus petolarius, JCM

In zoology, the Principle of Priority is one of the guiding principles of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, and is defined by Article 23.

It states that the correct formal scientific name for an animal taxon, the name that is to be used,  the valid name, is the oldest available name that applies to it. There are exceptions; another name may be given precedence by any provision of the Code or by any ruling of the Commission.

This is one of the fundamental guiding precept that preserves the stability of zoological nomenclature. It was first formulated in 1842 by a committee appointed by the British Association to consider the rules of zoological nomenclature; the committee's report was written by Hugh Edwin Strickland.

Two available Linnean names from1758 and two from 1766 are based on snakes of a single species of Oxyrhopus. Which of these names has priority has been unclear. A review of the history of these names establishes Oxyrhopus petolarius (Linné, 1758) as the correct name for the species because of the actions of Lönnberg (1896) the first reviser of O. petolarius.

Savage, JM. 2011. The correct species-group name for an Oxyrhopus (Squamata: Dipsadidae) variously called Coluber petalarius, C. pethola, C. petola, or C. petolarius by early authors. Biological Society of Washington 124:223-225.

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