Comments on the proposed conservation of the usage of the generic name of Drosophila Fallén, 1823 (Insecta, Diptera) 1 (Case 3407)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:A. Polaszek
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Volume:65
Issue:1
Start Page:55
Pagination:55
Date Published:03/2008
Type of Article:Comment
ISSN:0007-5167
Full Text

The case to conserve the usage of the name Drosophila Fallén, 1832 overSophophora Sturtevant, 1939, for Drosophila melanogaster, is probably the most important ever to have been submitted for a ruling by the Commission in its 113-year history. Drosophila melanogaster, commonly referred to (especially by nontaxonomists) as simply ‘Drosophila’, is the most widely studied animal, apart, possibly, from Homo sapiens, in human history. At the time of writing, ‘Google searches result in the following numbers of ‘hits’: Drosophila: 6,700,000;Drosophila melanogaster: 3,640,000; Sophophora: 19,000. Thus the number of hits for Drosophila exceeds that for Sophophora by more than 350 times. This comparison illustrates, very simply, the current global comparative usage of the two names.
  It seems likely that were the Commission not to vote in support of the conservation of Drosophila, such action would lead not only to unprecedented nomenclatural instability, but also to a widespread lack of confidence in both the actions and the purpose of the Commission itself. While being far from perfect, the present code continues to provide stability, and is adhered to by almost the entire community of zoological taxonomists, while providing opportunities for dealing effectively with exceptional cases. Drosophila is just such an exception, and possibly the greatest test of the Commission’s role and effectiveness since its formation in 1895.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith