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DPS Ammonite

Species Name Changes Against ICZN Code

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DPS Ammonite

While researching a question on species naming rules, I came across an interesting story about Turkey making changes to species names against the ICZN Code because Turkey found the names offensive. Names referring to Armenia and Kurdistan were changed. 

 

See quotes from a BBC article as mentioned in The Armenian Weekly:

https://armenianweekly.com/2009/03/04/learnings-from-the-sari-gelin-case/

 

6ED99E3C-FF33-427B-A5B2-3ABBBAE8CA03.png

 

Can you imagine the outcry amongst scientists if the names of Megalonxy jeffersonii or Washingtonia filifera (the only native palm in Arizona) were changed because some in the US found the names of slaveholders, Presidents Washington and Jefferson, offensive. 

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Kane
2 hours ago, DPS Ammonite said:

 

 

Can you imagine the outcry amongst scientists if the names of Megalonxy jeffersonii or Washingtonia filifera (the only native palm in Arizona) were changed because some in the US found the names of slaveholders, Presidents Washington and Jefferson, offensive. 

I'm not sure non-US scientists would be as up in arms about that.

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FossilDAWG

Renaming species for "political correctness" reasons would be a great way to destroy taxonomy.  There is an endless supply of reasons to be offended.  How about the fact that many more species are named for men than women?  Maybe we should make a list of all the species named after men and rename half of them for women?  The whole point of the system of rules based on priority is to maintain stability so people will know exactly what species is being discussed.  It's hard enough to keep track of name changes for valid reasons (synonymies, revisions of genera, etc) without having changes every few years based on who doesn't like this or that person or gender or race or whatever.  Anyone who would support that is not a biologist (or a paleontologist).

 

Don

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Kane

There is already precedent for keeping with names as assigned. A prime example would be an eyeless Slovenian beetle named in honour of a particularly nasty individual in WWII. As the initial naming did not violate the rules, attempts to rename it have been rejected. 

 

There will likely always be some form of politics in naming, as is human nature (Aristotle's Zoon politikon). If treated as signifiers breaking with their initial referent, it may go some length to allow for some degree of objective reassociation. 

 

Of course, the issue over naming in general is not a settled one in the philosophy of language. Binomial nomenclature would more align with the descriptivism of Frege, Russell, and Searle whereby a name refers to some object that, by consensus of speakers, a group of descriptions sufficiently and uniquely satisfies. It would not, however, satisfy the conditions as set out by Kripke whereby one would have to ask if there is an a priori necessity and/or an a posteriori contingency whereby the meaning of the name can be discovered through testing. 

 

EDIT: and, it should be noted, that scientific theory -- as a branch of philosophy -- is descriptivist in nature; it does not require a priori proofs to proceed. 

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Northern Sharks

Ya, what Kane said^^^^^:blink::fear::blink:

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Kane

"A species by any other name would smell as sweet."

- NorthernSharks, Forum Bard. :P 

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FossilDAWG
1 minute ago, Kane said:

"A species by any other name would smell as sweet."

- NorthernSharks, Forum Bard. :P 

Perhaps.  But suppose someone named a vial of pig manure as "rose extract" and you opened it and took a deep sniff.  Names are not entirely arbitrary, nor are arbitrary changes without effect.

 

Don

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Tidgy's Dad

Just name every species something like Adamitella adamum. 

Then nobody would get any of them wrong ever.:)

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Kane
1 minute ago, FossilDAWG said:

Perhaps.  But suppose someone named a vial of pig manure as "rose extract" and you opened it and took a deep sniff.  Names are not entirely arbitrary, nor are arbitrary changes without effect.

 

Don

I was in jest with Kevin on that one. ;) 

But, no, naming conventions are rarely arbitrary per se, but only gain in significance and acceptance once it enters a broader consensus (as just about any term introduced into a language). Setting aside error or a bad prank, naming a vial of pig manure "rose essence" falls way outside a range of reasonable consensus. But, to be technical, naming or insisting on any conceptual division may be classed as arbitrary at least on the grounds that such names and divisions are constructs that do not antedate human language. We agree to them for the purposes of general utility, since without that we'd never be able to communicate! :D 

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Al Tahan
11 hours ago, DPS Ammonite said:

Can you imagine the outcry amongst scientists if the names of Megalonxy jeffersonii or Washingtonia filifera (the only native palm in Arizona) were changed because some in the US found the names of slaveholders, Presidents Washington and Jefferson, offensive. 

Woahh woahh don’t go giving people ideas lol... I’ve seen people march for less :heartylaugh:. Self victimization is the newest trend in young America :wacko:. Good point tho!!! Science is science!! 

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Mark Kmiecik

. . . . . . . and because Turkey is calling them something else changes what? Does the rest of the world care? They can call them whatever they want -- nobody really cares. If they discover new coprolites in Turkey will they name them after Turkey? "What is the average air speed of an unladen African swallow?" is a better question.

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Kane
14 minutes ago, Mark Kmiecik said:

 Does the rest of the world care? They can call them whatever they want -- nobody really cares. If they discover new coprolites in Turkey will they name them after Turkey? 

Well, obviously some people do care, such as those in the scientific community who oppose the politicization that goes with these name changes, Armenians, and the OP. ;) 

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Mark Kmiecik
2 minutes ago, Kane said:

Well, obviously some people do care, such as those in the scientific community who oppose the politicization that goes with these name changes, Armenians, and the OP. ;) 

They are bringing politics into science. Uncalled for and an insult to the scientific community worldwide. 

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Kane
Just now, Mark Kmiecik said:

They are bringing politics into science. Uncalled for and an insult to the scientific community worldwide. 

Indeed, which is why the statement of "nobody really cares" is inaccurate. However, it would not be the first -- and doubtfully the last -- time politics interferes with science. 

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DPS Ammonite

I suspect that some scientists are bringing politics into science by the creative names given to new species. I wonder if George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld thought that it was a honor to have slime beetles named after them?  Link

 

Of any US president, Obama has the most species named after him including that of a blood fluke and a parasitic worm: link

 

Here’s an article

about a moth named after Trump. link

 

Lots of interesting new species get named after celebrities: the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Kane
14 minutes ago, DPS Ammonite said:

I suspect that some scientists are bringing politics into science by the creative names given to new species. I wonder if George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld thought that it was a honor to have slime beetles named after them?  Link

 

Of any US president, Obama has the most species named after him including that of a blood fluke and a parasitic worm: link

 

Here’s an article

about a moth named after Trump. link

 

Lots of interesting new species get named after celebrities: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I think most public figures in this age of social media are pretty much inured to the (dubious) honours they get or else they wouldn't last very long. :D I was actually thinking of these examples after I read your initial post. There have even been occasions where scientists will name species after their scientific nemeses!

 

One can suppose that scientists are human beings with political views just like anyone else. A less charitable view would be that those who choose to use their "naming rights" to be cheeky, satirical, or make political statements might be doing a somewhat childish disservice to the privilege of naming a new taxon. But as scientists are human beings, and humans have their own motivations and ego, we should not be surprised by the wide variation of motivations that go into naming. Of course, revising taxons for political reasons post facto is simply unnecessary and veers into serious ethical questions. 

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DPS Ammonite

A major reason for species being named after celebrities and politicians is that the scientists’ finds are more likely to get noticed in the news. 

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Kane
4 minutes ago, DPS Ammonite said:

A major reason for species being named after celebrities and politicians is that the scientists’ finds are more likely to get noticed in the news. 

That, too. :( With more competitive and declining funding, generating public interest by doing this is a bit of a Hail Mary to put pressure on allocating more funding. We've seen the waves of those who become celebrity academics in order to garner more funding. At times, it compromises research in some disciplines as it may appeal to shock value or the mores of the times. :shrug:

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DPS Ammonite
7 hours ago, Kane said:

If treated as signifiers breaking with their initial referent, it may go some length to allow for some degree of objective reassociation. 

I usually try to figure out the meaning of what our members post.  

I enjoy listening to our member’s passions even if I do not understand them. Kane, what is meant by above quote? My reading comprehension skills sometimes deteriorate rapidly outside of the paleontology and geology realm. 

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Abstraktum

That reminds me of this little guy:

 

5cb8e11bf11a5_hitlersbeetle.jpg.9d8afa99437538a81f6bd9dda4f7c468.jpg

 

 

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Carabidae
Subfamily: Trechinae
Genus: Anophthalmus
Species: Anophthalmus hitleri
Conservation Status: Not officially assessed, possibly threatened due to collection
 
Yes that little insect was named after Adolf Hitler in 1933 by German engineer and beetle collector Oscar Scheibel (1881 - 1953).
But nope, you can't change the name...
 
 
"There have been several proposals after the end of the World War II to rename the beetle, however they have all been rejected by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature*. To retain consistency in scientific sources, Latin designations of species cannot be changed once a name has been registered, unless the name had violated the established rules back when it was initially registered. Apparently, this was not the case with Anophthalmus hitleri."
 

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Kane
1 minute ago, DPS Ammonite said:

I usually try to figure out the meaning of what our members post.  

I enjoy listening to our member’s passions even if I do not understand them. Kane, what is meant by above quote? My reading comprehension skills sometimes deteriorate rapidly outside of the paleontology and geology realm. 

 

 

 

My pleasure. :) 

 

From semiotics, there is a signifier (a word) and a signified (the object or image). We build associations with words on that basis, so that when I say "tree" you get an image in your mind. It may not be the same species of tree, but we understand each other. The elasticity of language allows us to make different associations with words. In this case, let us assume a fictional example of a new leech: Piscicolida nixoni. Obviously for some, it's a comment on Nixon. However, I am free to decode that in any way I choose without even linking it to Nixon in terms of his person or policies! In this way, we can break the connection between the initial signifier-signified relationship. In some cases, the connection is tenuous already (and hence a lot of neat stuff on postmodernism, Baudrillard, and the simulacrum). A good example of a broken referent would be watermelon or banana flavoured candies: they have the shape and name of the referent, but bear no resemblance to the fruit in terms of taste!

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DPS Ammonite
22 minutes ago, Abstraktum said:

That reminds me of this little guy:

 

5cb8e11bf11a5_hitlersbeetle.jpg.9d8afa99437538a81f6bd9dda4f7c468.jpg

 

 

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Carabidae
Subfamily: Trechinae
Genus: Anophthalmus
Species: Anophthalmus hitleri
Conservation Status: Not officially assessed, possibly threatened due to collection
 
Yes that little insect was named after Adolf Hitler in 1933 by German engineer and beetle collector Oscar Scheibel (1881 - 1953).
But nope, you can't change the name...

Kane hinted about this one: “eyeless Slovenian beetle named in honour of a particularly nasty individual in WWII”.

 

Naming a beetle after Hitler may have been an ironic acknowledgment of Hitler’s interest in another type of Beetle.

 

I believe that the beetle is threatened due to collectors that are interested in its namesake. 

 

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Heteromorph

For more commentary on this subject:

 

Who Said Paleontologists Aren't Funny?

 

Obamadon? Now Ancient Creatures Can Get More Political...

 

All I can say is, if Paul, John, and Ringo got creatures named for them, why do I see nothing named for George? Time for somebody to fix that, if they haven’t already. George’s musical contributions have been neglected too frequently already. 

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