Tagged: Feeling sorry for the ICZN

A very closely described mess

Pick an animal. Any animal. Somewhere in the world is a very special, carefully stored, individual of that species. Meticulously described, it is as well preserved as we can possibly make it. We’re trying to keep this one individual, above all others of it’s species, perfect.

It is what’s called the “Type Specimen”, and it is the chosen representative of its entire species. And we need one of these, for every single living thing, because if the world is going to be so very untidy, we at least need to be able to keep straight what it is we’re talking about.

Dignified Kings

The answer to the question this magazine asks is: No.

So, the main character in the latest episode was working on a paper arguing that Triceratops was not a real species. This, to be very clear, is something we made up. Triceratops is fine. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that we don’t have to learn a new name to answer that oft-repeated question “Which dinosaur is the best one?”

But another three-horned dinosaur might suffer another extinction, thanks to Triceratops.