I would like to express my unreserved support for
the proposal by J. Frazier to conserve the name of the Aldabra Giant
Tortoise as Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 by the
designation of a neotype. There is clearly an urgent need for
resolution of this extremely confusing situation. I found myself, as a
practising biologist with interest and experience in taxonomic matters,
too easily swayed by plausible sounding explanations and publications.
However, as a non-specialist I was ill equipped to judge the merits of
these apparently spurious arguments. Frazier’s cogent and comprehensive
treatment has rectified this situation. I have read in great detail the
case presented by Frazier, and I am convinced of its merits.
I have previously published about this species using the name Dipsochelys dussumieri (Wanless,
2002; Wanless & Hockey, 2008). This was done through innocent
misperception, based on personal communications with R. Bour, that the
definitive solution to the taxonomic confusion had been accepted. I
request that these publications be struck from the list of those in
support of the use of either Dipsochelys or dussumieri. All future publications of mine will use the specific name gigantea until the Commission has reached a final decision. I urge acceptance of Frazier’s neotype and proposed retention of gigantea.
Wanless, R.M. 2002. The reintroduction of the Aldabra Rail Dryolimnas cuvieri aldabranus to Picard Island, Aldabra Atoll. 156 pp. (MSc, thesis). Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Zoology Department, University of Cape Town.
Wanless, R.M. & Hockey, P.A.R. 2008. Natural history and behavior of the Aldabra Rail (Dryolimnas [cuvieri] aldabranus). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 120: 50–61.