Lisa, Michi, and Philippe,
Sorry for the late response to this thread. Juan Miguel recently pointed it out to me. This is going to be a very long reply so get your coffee or beer out. It will be in three parts: in part 1 I will use quotes from Michi and Philippe to illustrate that there has never really been a discussion as to the validity of Maylandia
. In part 2 I would like to explain (for the umphth time) why Maylandia
is invalid. Don’t worry too much, the “description” is only 7 sentences long. And in part 3, I respond to the critique of Dr. Géry.
Before I start off I need to mention one important rule in describing a new taxon. Here is the exact text for that particular rule:
Requirements — to be available, every new scientific name ….must be
(i) accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon
This will be the only rule needed to invalidate Maylandia
, so it is not necessary to spell out others. Since the Code and a description should be treated as a legal document, we have to take everything literally. It boils down to the “differentiating characters” of the new taxon (=Maylandia
) that have to be given explicitly.
On June 22 Philippe Burnel wrote:
Anyway, more and more I read the original description of Maylandia, more and more I read Konings' arguments, and more and more I'm convinced that Maylandia is valid..............
So, in principle Philippe agrees that there is no description of Maylandia
. If you have to read the “description” over and over again (remember, 7 sentences) and still not for 100% sure that there are differentiating characters of Maylandia
given, there probably are none. The main problem with our “discussion” on the validity of Maylandia
is shown in the word “convinced”. I give arguments why I think one way. You have to give arguments why you think the other. I cannot argue about your belief. I’m not religious myself but I respect others that believe in something they cannot describe. Unfortunately the discussion stalls here. Remember we are looking in those 7 sentences for the “differentiating characters” of Maylandia. Not found yet.
On April 30 michi tobler wrote: “hey all,
in my opinion, the name Maylandia has priority. So, Metriaclima is a junior synonym of Maylandia. Since there is an excellent text by Michael Oliver (http://www.malawicichlids.com/mw01012.htm
) which brings all the arguments I have, I don't write a longer text here ;o))”
It is of course great to have an opinion but I’m afraid that’s not enough to validate a description. The reference to Oliver’s arguments doesn’t give any characters that differentiate Maylandia. Oliver gives a well-worded explanation of the Code but absolutely no arguments one way or another about the validity of Maylandia. It is too much to go into detail here but if wanted..... Remember, we are looking for the differentiating characters. Not found yet.
On July 2 Michi wrote:
Konings claims that the requirements are not fulfilled so that the name Maylandia is available (article 13a). As far as I rememder (and I can't look it up since my copy of the code is still in Switzerland), the phrase "not deducted from the text" comes from Konings and not the authors of the code. If these really is the case then Konings argumentation breaks down. …”
I think there is a typing error and that Michi means “….name Maylandia is un
available…”. I can also not follow that when I place an explanatory remark in square brackets that this has any effect on my argumentation? The Code says:
“…accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon”. Behind “states in words” I explained that those characters need to be stated in words, i.e. not deducted from the text. This is quite logic, at least to me. If characters are not stated in words you have two possibilities: either no characters are given at all or they are hidden in the text and you may be able to deduct them. If anyone sees another explanation for “stated in words” I’m curious to know. If you do, maybe you can also tell why this has an effect on my arguments. Remember we are looking for those differentiating characters. Not found yet.
Nobody doubts the integrity of Sven Kullander and he even had his translation of the “description” checked by a French speaking colleague. Therefore I was so free to use his translation of the “description” (again, square brackets are mine):
1st sentence: The subgenus [=Maylandia] differs in numerous regards from the type species of Pseudotropheus, Ps. williamsi, of which a complementary description precedes this work in this same issue (Trewavas: 97).
This sentence is a little superfluous because if it would not differ from Pseudotropheus there was no need to describe it in the first place. Result: no differentiating characters for Maylandia.
2nd sentence: In that species [=P. williamsi], the jaw teeth are arranged in regular curved bands, the inner teeth are tricuspid, the pharyngeal teeth little dense [i.e., spaced] and relatively large, the melanin pattern on the body consists of horizontal rows of spots or interrupted stripes, instead of vertical bars.
Result: no differentiating characters of Maylandia only characters of P. williamsi.
3rd sentence: Some other species of Pseudotropheus, s.lat. resemble Ps. greshakei and differ from Ps. williamsi in having the inner rows of teeth less regular and, at least in adults, including many unicuspids, the pharyngeal teeth slender and very dense posteriorly, and the melanin pattern of the body forming more or less conspicuous vertical bars.
Result: the word “resemble” has been the subject of a page of Kullander’s argumentation with various dictionaries involved. In my opinion this is beside the point. The word “resemble” implicates that P. greshakei is NOT included in that group of “some other species” which further means that the characters that follow refer to those “other species”. Do you see the differentiating characters of Maylandia? I don’t. Those other species are not equivalent to the subgenus Maylandia.
4th sentence: They are Ps. zebra Boulenger, Ps. Aurora Burgess, Ps. lombardoi Burgess and Ps. livingstonii Boulenger.
Result: no differentiating characters for Maylandia.
5th sentence: The latter two have, in females and non-territorial males, a well defined pattern of six vertical bars on the body of which 5 extend to the dorsal [fin] and become weaker and disappear on the lower part of the sides.
Interesting but no differentiating characters for Maylandia.
6th sentence: Ps. zebra and the numerous related forms have vertical bars like in Ps. greshakei, but stronger.
Aha, you would say, here we got something. Vertical bars it is. Sorry, but these are not the differentiating characters. This is a character that “P. zebra and numerous related forms” share with P. greshakei. They also share the fact that they all have a tail and an anal fin. Remember we are looking for differentiating characters. We are looking for something like “Maylandia DIFFERS or is DISTINGUISHED from x, y, and z in having a, b, and c”.
7th sentence: We suggest that the zebra complex be included in the subgenus Maylandia.
That is fine but the characters on which this suggestion is based have not been given.
The authors have “satisfactorily” described their “zebra complex” but failed to give it a name. If instead of P. greshakei, P. zebra or any of the 4 species named, was chosen as type species, they would have had an acceptable description . Conclusion: Maylandia is NOT available, i.e. a nomen nudum.
Part 3 will follow tomorrow (it’s getting late). Ad