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Who gets to name an unknown species?


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26 minutes ago, Kurious12 said:

If someone stumbles across a life form that is total new to the world, who gets to name that life form?

The discoverer?

A recent discovered frog species was named after David Attenborough.

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I've formally named several species of lizard, as part of my PhD was a systematic review of a genus. 

Generally, the person/people who publish the formal description also are the individual/s who nominate the species name. There are several nomenclatural codes that describe the process of naming species e.g. the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), Botanical (ICBN), Bacterial/Archaeal (ICNB) etc. These have in the past been largely gentlemen's agreements, but more formal regulations have been recently applied thanks to a few bad actors

Anyone can publish a formal description - which is essentially a description of the phenotypic/genetic/ecological traits which distinguish the novel species from existing species. 

Edited by Arete
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On 4/29/2022 at 1:46 PM, Arete said:

Anyone can publish a formal description - which is essentially a description of the phenotypic/genetic/ecological traits which distinguish the novel species from existing species. 

I've come across more than one specimen that appears to be unknown, but I don't think I'll be naming anything anytime soon. I don't know squat about phenotypic/genetic/ecological traits, and I suck at writing so count me out. 

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1 hour ago, Kurious12 said:

I've come across more than one specimen that appears to be unknown, but I don't think I'll be naming anything anytime soon. I don't know squat about phenotypic/genetic/ecological traits, and I suck at writing so count me out. 

If you have discovered a new life form, you can contact a biology department in a university or a museum of natural history. I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem finding a co-author for the publication.

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20 hours ago, Genady said:

If you have discovered a new life form, you can contact a biology department in a university or a museum of natural history. I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem finding a co-author for the publication.

It really depends; 

1) Without knowing anything about the morphology/ecology/genetics of the organism in question, I don't really see how OP can determine they have discovered a novel taxon. 

2) Depends on the taxon - new beetle? Cool. Go put it in the jar with all the other new beetles and maybe we'll get to it one day. New bear? Forget what else I had on today, let's go. 

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2 hours ago, Arete said:

2) Depends on the taxon - new beetle? Cool. Go put it in the jar with all the other new beetles and maybe we'll get to it one day. New bear? Forget what else I had on today, let's go. 

Well, don't forgot to fill out the field trip approval and the risk assessment form. After all, the Uni wants to be covered in case the search ends up with some very satiated bears.

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On 5/1/2022 at 1:41 PM, Genady said:

If you have discovered a new life form, you can contact a biology department in a university or a museum of natural history. I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem finding a co-author for the publication.

This sounds like a good ideal, there is only one or two items that I'd care to name, the rest I'll leave to the experts. Thanks.

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On 5/3/2022 at 12:46 PM, Kurious12 said:

This sounds like a good ideal, there is only one or two items that I'd care to name, the rest I'll leave to the experts. Thanks.

As I alluded to earlier, it's unlikely to yield a positive result. There is a global shortage of expert taxonomists, and an ever growing backlog of putative new species waiting to be formally classified. For example, even individual genetic barcoding studies can reveal hundreds of undescribed taxa.  Unless the species you have found is of particular scientific or cultural importance, the novel taxa you have putatively identified simply join the queue. Further, wanting someone else to describe the taxon while you dictate the name is akin to asking someone to ghost write a book for you, while they likely have a backlog of books they can write themselves. 

An exception to this I've seen is that the museum I worked for auctioned off the right to name some charismatic species to raise money for the museum. 

Without knowing what the taxa are, how you define them to be novel and whether or not you have viable specimens in hand - it's difficult to really say how much help an expert taxonomist might provide. 

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On 5/1/2022 at 3:17 PM, Kurious12 said:

I've come across more than one specimen that appears to be unknown, but I don't think I'll be naming anything anytime soon. I don't know squat about phenotypic/genetic/ecological traits, and I suck at writing so count me out. 

I'm just kurious (pan intended). What would stop you from naming them?

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On 5/9/2022 at 1:19 PM, Genady said:

I'm just kurious (pan intended). What would stop you from naming them

I guess lack of knowledge would stop me for the most part. I have one specimen that I've shown to a number of scientists, and they can't say what species it is so how am I to figure out what the correct species or genius is?

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41 minutes ago, Kurious12 said:

I guess lack of knowledge would stop me for the most part. I have one specimen that I've shown to a number of scientists, and they can't say what species it is so how am I to figure out what the correct species or genius is?

I am missing something here. Since you are not a biologist, what is importance of a name you like being "official"? I mean, just name it whatever you want, what else is involved?

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On 5/12/2022 at 2:26 PM, Genady said:

I am missing something here. Since you are not a biologist, what is importance of a name you like being "official"? I mean, just name it whatever you want, what else is involved?

As of now no one can even say for sure what this specimen is, I just thought by taking the official route that would help to figure it out. Yes, I can name it myself, but it would be nice to know what it is I'm naming. 

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