Comments on the proposed conservation of usage of Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 (currently Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) gigantea; Reptilia, Testudines) 1

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:Zug, GR
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Start Page:80
Date Published:03/2009
Type of Article:Comment
Full Text

 I support the application of Frazier to conserve Geochelone gigantea Schweigger,
1812 by the acceptance of a neotype designation. Frazier (2006a, 2006b)
detailed the confusion and nomenclatural instability that has resulted
from Bour’s (1982)

proposal of Dipsochelys. While some
turtle systematists have followed Bour’s proposal, others have not, and
the general biological community, especially ecologists and
herpetoculturists, have continued to use Geochelone gigantea or Aldabrachelys gigantea. Given
the uncertainty regarding the specific identity of the type, which was
poorly illustrated, Bour upset nomenclatural stability of the Aldabran
giant tortoise by his failure to follow the principle of the earlier
Code (1961 – Article 23b(iii)) to request an evaluation by the
Commission on the advisability of changing the widely used (i.e.
outside the turtle community) name Geochelone gigantea that
had instant recognition by the public and biologists for nearly
three-quarters of a century. Frazier’s (2006a) designation of a neotype
fixes the name Geochelone gigantea Schweigger to the giant
tortoises of Aldabra. The discovery of Schweigger’s purported type
specimen (Bour, 2006) immediately followed the designation of the
neotype, and the publication of this discovery continues to foster
nomenclatural confusion. The chain of evidence for the purported
holotype has too many uncertainties, and these will continue to cause
arguments on the assignment of the nomen gigantea whereas the acceptance of the neotype designation resolves the problem and promotes nomenclatural stability.

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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