Stilbum cyanura or Stilbum cyanurum?

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Stilbum cyanura or Stilbum cyanurum?

Postby Euchroeus » 02 Dec 2012 15:30

The correct spelling is Stilbum cyanurum (Forster, 1771).

Problems related to species names that must agree in gender with generic names always exist and often are discussed within taxonomists.

In the introduction of the last edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomeclature it is written:

Development of underlying principles.
As in previous Codes, the present edition retains the requirement that Latin or latinized adjectival species-group names must always agree in gender with the generic name with which they are combined. A proposal was considered that would have allowed the names of species and subspecies to be treated as though they were arbitrary words (i.e. they were never to be treated as Latin adjectives), so that their spellings would be invariable irrespective of the gender of the generic name with which they are combined at any time. The proposal would not only have eased the burden on those without Latin, but would also have facilitated electronic searching. But, because the various ways proposed of achieving unchanging spellings were all considered to have drawbacks by the majority of respondents, and were not acceptable to them, the proposal was dropped.

31.2. Agreement in gender. A species-group name, if it is or ends in a Latin or latinized adjective or participle in the nominative singular, must agree in gender with the generic name with which it is at any time combined.

In the case of Chrysis cyanura Forster, 1771 the specific name is feminine, in accordance with the gender Chrysis. Spinola (1806) described the genus Stilbum and the first combination Stilbum cyanurum dates back to Mocsáry (1899). Before the rediscovery of the name cyanurum by the Hungarian entomologist, the same taxon was identified as Stilbum splendidum (Fabricius). After Mocsáry, all the authors used the name Stilbum cyanurum (Forster) in accordance with the masculine gender of the name Stilbum. Mingo (1994: 226), for the first time, used the name Stilbum cyanura according to the rules given by the ICZN.

The Codes states that:

31.2.1. A species-group name that is a simple or compound noun (or noun phrase) in apposition need not agree in gender with the generic name with which it is combined (the original spelling is to be retained, with gender ending unchanged; see Article 34.2.1).

Examples. The specific name in Simia diana (Simia and diana both feminine) remains unchanged in Cercopithecus diana (Cercopithecus masculine); and the noun phrases in Melanoplus femurrubrum (Melanoplus masculine; but rubrum agreeing with femur, neuter) and Desmometopa m-nigrum (Desmometopa feminine; nigrum neuter, agreeing with m, because letters of the alphabet are neuter).

Mingo (1994) stated that the specific term cyanura is a substantive in apposition, derived from the Greek adjectiv κυανός, -ή, -όν [blue] and from the female substantive oύρά, -ας [tail]. Therefore the name is invariable. The corresponding adjectiv is cyanureus, -a, -um, derived from the adjectiv oύράιoς.

The name Stilbum cyanurum is in error for two reasons:
1. cyanura, beeing a substantive in apposition, is invariable;
2. the name cyanurum is in error anyway and the correct writing should be cyanureum.

Mingo's interpretation of the name was rejected by the most imporant authors (Linsenmaier, 1997; Niehuis, 2001; Strumia, 1995, Rosa, 2006, etc.) and by the official list of the names given in Fauna Europaea. Almost everyone went on using the name Stilbum cyanurum.

However the interpretation given by Mingo was accepted by some authors.
For example the name Stilbum cyanura (Förster [sic!]) is present in the title of the article "Description of the postdefecating larva of Stilbum cyanura (Förster) and observations on adult behavior" by Tormos J., Polidori C., Asis J.D. & Federici M. (2006). The name cyanura is also present in some other few recent publication (Ivanov & Ljubomirov, 2001; Ljubomirov, 2007; Fonfria R., Ortiz Sánchez F.J. & Aguirre Segura A., 2008).

The reason why we do not accept Mingo's interpretation is also found in the Code:

23.5. Application to spellings. The Principle of Priority applies to the spellings of an available name, unless an incorrect spelling has been preserved in accordance with Article 33.3.1, or, in the case of family-group names, with Articles 29.4 or 29.5. (For the preservation of unjustified emendations see Article

33.3.1. when an incorrect subsequent spelling is in prevailing usage and is attributed to the publication of the original spelling, the subsequent spelling and attribution are to be preserved and the spelling is deemed to be a correct original spelling.

In our case, the name Stilbum cyanurum was in prevailing usage since 1889, even it is an incorrect spelling. Some hundreds of publications and dozens of authors used this name. For example, Madl & Rosa (2006) listed 43 authors and a total of 66 publications where the name Stilbum cyanurum was used after 1889 only for the Afrotropical Region.

Conclusions. The name Stilbum cyanurum was in prevailing usage and has to be preserved.

Paolo Rosa -
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