Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 (currently Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) gigantea; Reptilia, Testudines): proposed conservation of usage of the specific name by maintenance of a designated neotype, and suppression of Testudo dussumieri Gray, 1831

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:J. Frazier
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Start Page:34
Date Published:03/2009
Type of Article:Case
Keywords:Aldabra Atoll, Aldabrachelys, Chelonoidis, Cylindraspis, Dipsochelys, Geochelone, land tortoises, Nomenclature, taxonomy, Testudines, TESTUDINIDAE, Testudo, Testudo carbonaria, Testudo denticulata, Testudo dussumieri, Testudo elephantina, Testudo gigantea

The purpose of this application, under Article 75.8 of the Code, is to conserve the specific name Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 in its customary usage for the giant land tortoise (family TESTUDINIDAE) found on Aldabra Atoll in the western Indian Ocean. Taxonomic and nomenclatural confusion in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to competing and contradictory proposals between 1982 and 2006 to supplant T. gigantea Schweigger, 1812, first with T. elephantina Duméril & Bibron, 1835 and then with T. dussumieri Gray, 1831. As a corollary, Aldabrachelys Loveridge & Williams, 1957, the genus-group name erected for the Aldabra tortoise, was supposedly reduced to a junior synonym of either the extinct Mascarene genus/subgenus Cylindraspis Fitzinger, 1835, or the South American genus/subgenus Chelonoidis Fitzinger, 1835, and replaced as the name of the Aldabra tortoise by the generic name Dipsochelys Bour, 1982. To stabilise the accustomed name of this species as Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) gigantea, a neotype of T. gigantea Schweigger, 1812 was designated in 2006. A subsequent claim of the rediscovery of the long-lost holotype now again threatens this usage and stable nomenclature by (1) rendering T. gigantea a junior subjective synonym of T. denticulata Linnaeus, 1766, (2) resurrecting the former nomen oblitum Testudo dussumieri Gray, 1831 for the Aldabra tortoise, and (3) setting aside the neotype of T. gigantea; this action also again threatens the established use of Aldabrachelys. The supposed holotype rediscovery is not unequivocally proven, and for the sake of nomenclatural universality and stability, it is proposed that the neotype designation of 2006 be affirmed and that T. dussumieri Gray, 1831 be suppressed.

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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