In my opinion Frazier’s proposal is completely unnecessary, because the facts are clear and the rules of the ICZN provide solutions for this situation. I support the arguments presented by Bour & Pritchard (BZN 66: 169–174).
You are here
I am writing to you in strong support of Case 3463 to stabilise the name of the Aldabra tortoise. During my time as a research fellow at the Natural History Museum (London) I conducted phylogenetic and population genetic analyses of both living and museum material from the Seychelles, including Aldabra. At the time the nomenclatural instability was a major issue, for scientific understanding of the evolutionary history of these tortoises but more importantly for conservation of surviving populations.
In my function as acting Chair of the CITES Animals Committee (since 2002), I write these lines to you in regard to the issue of stabilising the name of the Giant Aldabra Tortoise as Testudo gigantea. I wish to support the opinion expressed by Dr Ute Grimm (BZN 66: 283) and confirm that this represents the position of the CITES Animals Committee
I disagree with the proposal by Bock & Bühler to designate a neotype for Archaeopteryx lithographica because there is no demonstrated need to do so. First, there is no reasonable disagreement that the name was applied to the feather, the first specimen discovered, by Hermann von Meyer (1861). There is a possibility that von Meyer later intended the name also to apply to the first discovered skeletal specimen, which is now in the Natural History Museum in London, although this is ambiguous and in any case irrelevant, because the referral of the skeleton was secondary.
My colleagues and I (Takahashi et al., 2003) published a paper in which we made morphological and taxonomic comparisons of a fossil tortoise with other testudines. We have become aware that there has been great nomenclatural debate and uncertainty about the name of the Aldabra tortoise, and after studying the recent publication of Case 3463 in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, it is clear that the nomenclatural instability adds greatly to the complications of scientific research.
I completely support the petition to conserve the specific name Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 for the Aldabra tortoise, although I used another name, Dipsochelys dussumieri in my paper (Takahashi et al., 2003). I agree with Frazier that T. gigantea is the established name. As explained in Case 3463, it has been in continuous use for more than 100 years and has been widely used in the scientific literature. It is important to settle this nomenclatural issue because there has been considerable confusion since 1982. The neotype for T.
I agree with the arguments of Dr Jack Frazier recommending the stabilisation of the name of the Aldabra tortoise and proposing that the neotype designation of 2006 be affirmed. Changing the scientific name of this tortoise will lead to confusion.
As a student of reptiles in the Indian Ocean area I was perfectly aware of the nomenclatural chaos regarding the Aldabra tortoises having profound effects on both the research progress in this field and conservation efforts for preserving and managing these tortoises. I completely agree with Frazier’s arguments and hopefully this will provide a stable taxonomical situation for the future.