Comments on the proposed conservation of usage of Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 (currently Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) gigantea) (Reptilia, Testudines) 9 (Case 3463)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:Raxworthy, CJ
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Start Page:90
Date Published:03/2010
Type of Article:Comment
Full Text

Having conducted systematic research on reptiles in the Indian Ocean for almost 25
years, I (and many others) have become increasingly frustrated by the ongoing
nomenclatural confusion associated with the Aldabra tortoise. And now, it is
remarkable to find 58 pages of Volume 66 of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
being devoted to this one topic. This is a striking example where a ruling from the
Commission is now urgently needed concerning Jack Frazier’s Case 3463, which
proposes to conserve the species name of the Aldabra tortoise as gigantea.
While I am sympathetic to the arguments made by colleagues that the holotype of
Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 is actually a Chelonoidis denticulata (Linnaeus,
1766) collected from Brazil, unfortunately, the rediscovery of this long lost holotype
has not been universally accepted by the systematic community (see earlier comments
on this case). Further, there is now new doubt that the lectotype of Testudo
dussumieri Gray 1831 was collected from Aldabra (Matyot, BZN 66: 352–354,
September, 2009).
The best solution for dealing with all this uncertainty is the designation of a
neotype that clearly originates from Aldabra, and conserving the species name that
has the broadest current recognition and usage. Jack Frazier’s Case 3463 proposes
that Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 is conserved to stabilize the nomenclature of
the Aldabra tortoise, and that the specimen USNM 269962 collected from Aldabra,
is designated as the neotype for this species. I support the designation of this neotype
with well-documented provenance from Aldabra and, based on the published
comments presented in response to this case, it is clear that there is strongest support
for conserving the species name gigantea.

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