Proper Scientific name

Ron Gatrelle rgatrelle at
Thu Oct 26 19:50:42 EDT 2000

Ernest Willians wrote:

As Ken Philip noted, the scientific name has been mispelled occasionally.
Barnes (1897) described the species as as "Gillettii", and Gunder (1930)
used with "gillettii" (lower-case "G"), which has been widely accepted.
But Comstock (1940) erred with "gilletti" as did Miller & Brown (1981),
and Ken listed Dyar (1902) as using "gillettei".

Ron's comments,
    1) When Linnaeus founded the modern system of taxonomy, species names
were usually capitalized. This was considered the proper method for some
time. Eventually this gave way to a systematic "style" where names below the
genus level all begin with small case letters. Thus, Barnes' use of
Gillettii simply manifests the style of his day -- which was transitional in
the utilization of capitols.
    2) The formation and implementation of the International Code of
Zoological Nomenclature standardized taxonomy and mandated that these rules
be followed. This code is retroactive and thus all the old taxonomic
presentations were revised as necessary and brought into conformity with the
code. Thus, gilletti can no longer be written with a capitol G as originally
    3) The use of a double i at the end of the name was also a contemporary
"traditional" way of Latinizing a masculine name. Neither Comstock nor
Miller/Brown erred in the usage of a single i. This is true for two reasons.
First, according to the ICZN code, a single or double i ending is considered
to be an identical spelling -- either are accepted so neither is wrong.
However, the ICZN establishes the single i as preferable -- which is
precisely why Miller/Brown rendered it as gilletti. Miller/Brown "changed"
many names in that list to make them conform to the rules of the ICZN.
Miller/Brown does not follow anyone. They followed the ICZN. Dyar's
gillettei is wrong.
    4) There is has been, in my opinion, a general dumbing-down of the
scientific aspects of lepidoptery over the last 20 years. Since this will
open up volumes, I will stop myself here.


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