5 New Metriaclima Species

New cichlid species and taxonomy
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Darrell Ullisch
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Wed May 15, 2013 12:01 pm

Willem, I must respectfully disagree with your interpretation that greshakei has to be included in the listing of these "other" species. The type species of greshakei has already been placed into the new taxon, there is no need to include it in the list of additional species that are being added. We are back to interpretation of the sentence, "We suggest that this zebra complex should be included in Maylandia". If one accepts that the intent of this was to include the "other" species of the zebra complex in Maylandia, then the diagnosis is valid. The code does not require use of the type species for the diagnosis, only that the new taxon be differentiated from the old.

The debate over whether the French phrase should be translated as "should" or "must" is a specious argument. The real discussion is about Mr. Konings' interpretation of the word "should" as having some strange ambiguity to it. I first looked in a thesaurus; should and must are listed as synonyms to one another. I then looked at the online dictionary for the definitions of should. I could find no such definition that would make the phrase "should be included" to be anything other than a polite way of saying that they were including these other species in a new subgenus that already contains greshakei.

There is no question that a simple, straightforward statement would have made this entire discussion go away. Personally, I would have fired or shot the editor who failed to instruct the authors to refine their paper. However, A statement is not limited to a single sentence, or even a single paragraph. The intent is still clear.

I would recommend that one side or the other - or both - submit a petition to the committee. The Maylandia side would simply have to ask for a decision as to whether or not Maylandia was available and valid. I believe they would most likely win. For the other side, however, I would submit a petition requesting that Metriaclima be given priority through common usage; that is, because Metriaclima occurs more frequently in publications than Maylandia, it should be given valid status. This has been done before, most notably for (then Rivulus) Kryptolebias marmoratus over K. ocellatus. Despite the seniority of the latter, the former name had been used in hundreds of scientific studies (due to being one of the few naturally occuring hermaphroditic freshwater species). Anyway, taking this tack would render both the availability and the validity of Maylandia a moot point.

Either way, without a petition requesting a formal decision from the committee, this debate will not be ended. I agree that someone is taking the argument personally. I have no dog in this fight, but I'm afraid that from the few parts that have been translated here, I would interpret the paper as meeting the requirements of the code.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Willem Heijns » Wed May 15, 2013 1:01 pm

Darryl,
Let´s assume that greshakei was already included in Maylandia. So there would be no need to do that again. Only the four additional species have to be included. The problem is that only these four additional species are properly diagnosed. So without including them, Maylandia would lack a valid diagnosis. And therefore the name would be unavailable. Including this well diagnosed zebra complex into the (sub)genus Maylandia (which does not have a valid diagnosis), does not transfer the diagnosis of the group into the (sub)genus. One cannot "import" a diagnosis into a taxon that lacks a proper one itself. Whether you include greshakei into this group or not does not make a difference here.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by adkonings » Wed May 15, 2013 1:10 pm

Darrell Ullisch wrote: The debate over whether the French phrase should be translated as "should" or "must" is a specious argument. The real discussion is about Mr. Konings' interpretation of the word "should" as having some strange ambiguity to it. I first looked in a thesaurus; should and must are listed as synonyms to one another.
Dear Mr. Ullisch,

My thesaurus (Collins) does not mention that 'should' and 'must' are synonyms. The question here is, can "soit", which translates as "be", be interpreted as "must be" when the sentence starts with "we suggest"? I asked another French national here in El Paso and she said that in the sentence "Nous suggérons que ce complexe de zebra soit inclus dans le sous-genre Maylandia", soit is translated as "be included" or as "may be included", never as must and also not as should. And, as Willem mentioned, why would one suggest to include a species complex into a (sub)genus which would contain already a member of that complex.

Regarding your suggestion of applying with the committee of zoological nomenclature I have the following information. In mid 1990s Jay Stauffer and I needed to find out what actually the characters are/were that diagnosed Maylandia, and we were stuck as we couldn't derive them from the M&F description. Unfortunately Jay decided to coin a new name for the zebra complex, which, of course, started this problem. In 2005 Jay, Martin Geerts, and I wrote an application to the ICZN, to Dr. Polaszek, asking for the validation of Metriaclima and the confirmation of the unavailability of the name Maylandia. The application is too long to post here but I can make it available via the site. The answer to our question was, the committee agreed with our statements (I still have the e-mail), but also that they could do nothing as they only interfere when the Code has to be overruled. Several years later, as the discussion continued, I mentioned this to George Turner (sent him all my correspondence with the ICZN) and told him that in order to find out how the committee regards the validity of Maylandia he should write an application to validate Maylandia (because he argued that both taxa have different type species, so both can be valid). Later he told me that he did file an application (also not published) and that the committee told him right, but when I asked if I could see the response e-mail from the ICZN, because this could be important news for the Maylandia camp, he told me he had lost it. So it appears that both sides have applied to the ICZN but we are still nowhere.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Thu May 16, 2013 12:05 pm

First, Willem: You are adding a meaning to the Code that is not there. A statement is defined as a declaration. It is not limited to one sentence, or even a single paragraph. The entire paper can be taken as a statement. You are then building a circular argument; the diagnosis of the zebra group cannot be the diagnosis for Maylandia because there is no diagnosis for Maylandia. However, if you read the intent of the authors as including this group as part of Maylandia, then logically the diagnosis of the group is The diagnosis for the subgenus. As was pointed out earlier in the discussion, the paper has to be taken as a whole, not parsed up into pieces that can be disputed.

To Mr. Konings: Try Merriam-Webster, Thesaurus.com, or the thesaurus that comes with MSOffice. However, you now say that word is not part of the translation. If that is so, why did you use that word three times in one post?

To put it simply, even the translation, "We suggest that the zebra group may be included in Maylandia" can be interpreted as a polite way of saying that they are including it. You read it as ambiguous, and I see how that interpretation is just as viable. This is the crux of the argument, and is not going to be resolved. Perhaps you should write to the commission and suggest that they amend the code to include a requirement that publications cannot use polite phrases because they are too ambiguous.

Also, you were asked very near the beginning of the discussion for an explanation of your claim that the commission had already commented on this. Apparently I was able to convince you to finally post that information. As you stated, they certainly did nothing to resolve the issue. However, I will tell you that Bill Eschmeyer's site follows the publication of papers only, and the last publication on this subject (Conde and Gery) places Metriaclima in synonymy with Maylandia. If you do not agree with that, you have to publish a proper rebuttal to that paper to get that changed.
There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. - Egyptian proverb

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by adkonings » Thu May 16, 2013 1:03 pm

We started this thread from questions why the name Metriaclima was still being published as it was so obvious for all others it should be Maylandia. I explained my point of view about the invalidity of that name. I’m not going on a crusade to get either name accepted because very simply, and as mentioned before, we have to describe these species before they are gone. Apparently Jay and I are able to publish these species using the genus name Metriaclima in peer reviewed journals. And mind you, I want our publications scrutinized by the best critics, not by friends who would feel uncomfortable criticizing us, and therefore I always ask for reviewers who I know believe in Maylandia. And yes we always get remarks about our usage of Metriaclima, but apparently our explanation of the usage of Metriaclima satisfies the editorial boards of the journals. Apparently those editors don’t know anything about nomenclature and are still fiddling with the Code, and have never heard of the Eschmeyer website that would solve all of their questions. That is just our luck.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by cichla » Thu May 16, 2013 1:58 pm

adkonings wrote: using the genus name Metriaclima in peer reviewed journals.
Zootaxa even published papers of new taxa which do not fulfill the current rules of the code. Hence, it seems, to publish a paper in Zootaxa does not mean much. Nevertheless, your paper, Ad, is a 'major league' one and would pass the peer-review also in other journals for sure. And if I may vote .... I would vote for Metriaclima. However, why should we treat Combe & Gery less justified? By the way, I think the contribution by Juan is well written and conciliatory.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Willem Heijns » Fri May 17, 2013 8:55 am

Darrell;
Which meaning did I add to the Code? And where’s the circle in my reasoning? All I said was that the zebra complex has been diagnosed and that including this complex in Maylandia does not automatically give Maylandia a diagnosis. If you add a taxon (the zebra complex) to another taxon (the (sub)genus Maylandia) you should also consider the possibilty of NOT doing this. And if you don’t add the zebra complex to Maylandia, Maylandia will be left without diagnosis, just as it was (without diagnosis) before adding the zebra complex. This sounds perfectly logical to me. Tell me please where my logic fails.

You also address the phylosophical aspect of this issue. You say I should look at the paper as a whole and take into consideration the intent of the authors. You may have a point there. But looking at intent and at the paper as a whole is not a free ticket to write just about anything in that paper. The content of the paper should be consistent and clear. An example from “my part” of the cichlid world: when Werner & Stawikowski (1987) proposed the generic name Paratheraps for their newly described Paratheraps breidohri, it was perfectly clear what they intended to do. Yet, the description was rendered invalid, because they forgot one detail: assigning a type species to their new genus. Fortunately for them, they were able to correct this error two years later. On formal grounds (and rightly so) their first paper was invalidated, although the intent was about as obvious as it could be.

The intent of Meyer & Foerster (1984) is less clear. The objective of their paper (judging by its title) was to describe a new species (Pseudotropheus greshakei) and to make some remarks on the Pseudotropheus-Melanochromis complex. The title did not say that the authors intended to describe a new subgenus. They achieved their first objective (the new species), but the second one (remarks on Pseudotropheus-Melanochromis) never made it to the paper. Instead, the description of Maylandia was published, probably inserted into the paper at a later stage. Why they changed their mind (and didn’t bother to adjust the title of their paper) is a mystery to me, although Geerts & Konings (2002) have speculated on this. So, judging this paper as a whole leads to the conclusion that the title is inconsistent with the content. Looking in more detail at the inserted part (the description of Maylandia), the inconsistencies continue. The authors speak of “the subgenus”, “some other species” and “this (zebra) complex”, all supposedly meaning the same group of taxa. I still believe that this is highly inconsistent and that it leaves room for numerous different interpretations, as the discussion has shown. If there was an intent, it was effectively hidden from sight. And I still believe taxonomic papers (containing nomenclatural acts) should be jugded by their content and not by their alleged intent.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Philippe Burnel » Fri May 17, 2013 9:17 am

Willem Heijns wrote:when Werner & Stawikowski (1987) proposed the generic name Paratheraps for their newly described Paratheraps breidohri, it was perfectly clear what they intended to do. Yet, the description was rendered invalid, because they forgot one detail: assigning a type species to their new genus
not least !!!
Unfortunatly a few month later Maylandia was redescribed ( don't remember exactly but, it seems to me it was in the description of Ps hajomaylandi... but the authors didn't give a type sp. So, this 2nd description is not valid.
The intent of Meyer & Foerster (1984) is less clear. The objective of their paper (judging by its title) was to describe a new species (Pseudotropheus greshakei) and to make some remarks on the Pseudotropheus-Melanochromis complex. The title did not say that the authors intended to describe a new subgenus.

Do you really think so ? Why did they make a paragraph titled "Maylandia n. subgenus", gave a type species and the etymology of the new sub-genus if it was not to described it ? etc, etc...

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Mark Smith » Fri May 17, 2013 12:33 pm

Darrell, and lets not forget Parachromis gulosus, which is technically the proper name for Parachromis managuense.

For Ad: Would it have been proper for Stauffer to have just re-described the genus Maylandia rather than erecting a completely new genus name? Would that have been his prerogative? I am sure I have seen authors in the recent past doing so with other families of fishes.

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Darrell Ullisch » Fri May 17, 2013 11:35 pm

Willem, your previous argument was that the diagnosis of the zebra group cannot be the diagnosis of Maylandia because the zebra group cannot be included in Maylandia because it has no diagnosis, because the diagnosis of the zebra group cannot be the diagnosis of Maylandia because the zebra group cannot be included in Maylandia, and so on and so on. That is a circular argument, also sometimes called a catch-22.
All I said was that the zebra complex has been diagnosed and that including this complex in Maylandia does not automatically give Maylandia a diagnosis.
This is where you and I disagree. There is nothing in the code that says it is not permissible to add the diagnosis in this manner. This is something you are reading into the code that is not there. It is a poor way to do it, I will concede that. But it is still valid.
If you add a taxon (the zebra complex) to another taxon (the (sub)genus Maylandia) you should also consider the possibilty of NOT doing this.
Why? Any later publication that might remove the group from this subgenus would have to consider the effect at that time. But at the time of the publication of the description of Maylandia, placing that group within the new subgenus not only makes the diagnosis of the group valid as the diagnosis of the new taxon, but ties it into that taxon almost inextricably.
if you don’t add the zebra complex to Maylandia, Maylandia will be left without diagnosis
Which brings us back to the debate over whether the authors were clearly adding the group. My opinion is that that can be interpreted both ways, and therefore the debate will go on until someone blinks. Darned French and their overpolite language! :lol: Irrelevant question: has anyone else noticed how many of the disputed descriptions over the years were written in French? (Cryptoheros, for example.)

My reference to the whole paper was not philosophical, it was literal. You have to include all the facts that are in the paper, not separate them out individually to argue about them. Your reference to Paratheraps is not applicable, as there is no way to even infer a type species from their original description, much less say that they designated one. However, the logic path for the diagnosis is clear on Maylandia IF, and only if, one accepts that they were including the group in the new taxon.

I have made my points. The discussion is now down to differences of opinion, not fact. I will not be further involved, as the solution that seems obvious to me will not be considered by those who would gain most from it.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Youenn » Sat May 18, 2013 1:53 am

Darrell Ullisch wrote:Darned French and their overpolite language!
Tss, tss… Who have choose english has language? You should have take French s officiol langage, specially considering how the French came to help new American during the Independance war……… :evil: :lol: :mrgreen:

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Rico Morgenstern » Sat May 18, 2013 3:44 am

Hi guys, I have long hesitated to contribute to this discussion; and it's obvious that no consensus will be achieved here. Anyway I try to express my thoughts about that issue.

The proposal of Maylandia is of course lamentable for not containing a straightforward diagnosis or definition. Meyer & Foerster got bogged down with the justification for the new subgenus and with the discussion, which species are to be included, and failed to get to the point. Nevertheless, distinguishing characters are stated and even compared with the corresponding characters of Pseudotropheus sensu stricto, represented by the type species Pseudotropheus williamsi. The question is just if the stated characters are linked with the new subgenus or not. From the statement (my translation) "A few other species of Pseudotropheus s. lato equal Ps. greshakei and differ from Ps. williamsi by [characters]", followed by the suggestion to include those other species into the subgenus, we can draw the logical conclusion that this suggestion was made because of those characters, which are consequently the ones diagnostic for Maylandia. Let's look once more at the crucial article:
13.1. Requirements. To be available, every new name published after 1930 must satisfy the provisions of Article 11 and must

13.1.1. be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon
I have read here and elsewhere several interpretations of this article, but I think it is reasonable to assume that the Code was meant to be taken literally rather than reading between the lines. This is certainly not always possible, because some articles leave room for interpretations, but we also must bear in mind the underlying principles, on which the Code is based, and the interdependence of the provisions. Under that approach, the most parsimonious interpretation of art. 13.1.1 is, that an author proposing a new name must give verbally the characters, of which he or she thinks that they distinguish the taxon (no matter, of course, if they actually do or not). Neither in this article, nor anywhere else in the code, it is prescribed that there must be a statement, in which way and from what the given characters differentiate the taxon; "...states in words..." refers only to the characters per se. Only the accompanied recommendation 13A advises to make the differentiation obvious.

Therefore, I conclude that Maylandia fullfills the requirements of Art. 13.1.1. It is an available name, and the principle of priority must be applied, whether we like it or not. The only chance to get rid of it (but why?) would be an application to the ICZN to suppress the name. But it is by no means sure if such an application would be successful.
adkonings wrote: Example: when Johnson described Labidochromis joanjohnsonae, he did exactly that: he gave a few measurements (description) but failed to diagnose the species, i.e. he did not compare it with any other entity
cichla wrote:
Mark Smith wrote:"Maylandia azureus, blue cichlid with vertical barring". Would the name I give it stand with such a simple, weak description?
No, such a 'description' would not fulfill the requirements of the code. There is no comparative note. However, (funny enough) if you would write 'the new species Maylandia azureus differs from the remaining species by a particular colour' then it would fulfill the requirements
@Ad and Ingo, from the above-said, I would even doubt that a comparative note is required at all. At least I recommend not to open that box, you may set off an avalanch of similar discussions.

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Willem Heijns » Sat May 18, 2013 5:12 am

I think we have reached the point where we can say that we agree to disagree. Everything has been said (sometimes more than once). Interesting note: Since this concerns the availability (and validity) of a name, somehow a decision will have to be made eventually. This decision will have to be made by the Commission, who (I've been told) have received applications to that effect from both sides. No formal action has been taken by them (at least none that I know of) and the informal answers by e-mail from a member of the Commisssion are (remarkably) lost. :shock:

@Darrell: There is a very clear way to infer a type species from the original description of Paratheraps. Werner & Stawikowski included the term: "gen.nov. spec.nov." in the title of their paper. Had they not mentioned any other species to be assigned to their new genus, breidohri would have automatically been type species of Paratheraps "by monotypy".
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Tachymarptis » Sun May 19, 2013 3:09 am

Willem Heijns wrote:I think we have reached the point where we can say that we agree to disagree. Everything has been said (sometimes more than once).
I agree with your conclusion about this disagreement, which is unchanged for now decades. The same arguments have been exposed here and there several times with no new advance, we are remaining in chicaneries. I just would like to put forward my general point of view about this matter for this new resurgence of the contest.

The reason why Maylandia should not be boycotted is not for clanship or something similar. On my side, I would prefer for several reasons Metriaclima to Maylandia, among which the better work done on the former, while the second smacks of some taxonomical merchandising for a book seller. But if we begin with such considerations, it will be endless. Diagnosis are written with human, imperfect languages; contrary to mathematical demonstrations, they cannot be perfectly rigorous, each word, sentence, could be disputed. Should we also challenge the syntax, or each non academic turn of phrase? Then, most American publications should be invalidated, since American language is not Oxford English. So, opening this Pandora Box would have negative repercussions by inducing settings of scores. This is my main fear.
Interesting note: Since this concerns the availability (and validity) of a name, somehow a decision will have to be made eventually. This decision will have to be made by the Commission, who (I've been told) have received applications to that effect from both sides. No formal action has been taken by them (at least none that I know of) and the informal answers by e-mail from a member of the Commisssion are (remarkably) lost. :shock:
I remember that everyone agreed here (including Ad) that the commission's advice will at last close the matter. This advice has not yet come, since validating Metriaclima only states the obvious; the main point is the validity of Maylandia. But we should not forget that even the nomenclature commission can give inappropriate verdicts: let's remember the Acacia case (which was mentioned by Philippe): the type species of this huge tree genus has been changed from an African species to an Australian one only for commodity reasons (yes, yes!), because there were much more Australian than African species! This is no less than a breaking of the most important principles of universality and priority carried by Linnean nomenclature. I wonder how this could find an agreement among botanists, this is simply unbelievable. This could well become a precedent with incalculable consequences.

Anyway, as I wrote for now more than 10 years (and still consider as the most coherent), Maylandia and Metriaclima should step aside for Microchromis/Cynotilapia (between which I was not able to decide, but which have good chances to be synonyms, as was hypothetized by Ad on CRC), since the type species of these genera are very close to those of both "M." (just compare them with the newly described pambazuko). Yet the "Cynotilapia" set is currently used as a polyphyletic catch-all for conical-toothed mbunas. Not only changing this would be quite logical and would be by no mean shocking, since even the unicuspid-toothed genus Labidochromis contains bicuspid-toothed species, but this would end this "M." contest once for all, and we would be able to focus on more important tricks.

Patrick

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Lisachromis » Tue May 21, 2013 9:38 am

You know, whether or not we actually reach some sort of consensus almost doesn't matter on the forum anyways. I am happy to see that we can discuss the issue itself without it generating into a downward spiral. Wish I could add more to this discussion, but I can't. I loved reading it though!

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Pete B » Thu May 23, 2013 1:08 pm

Is there any reason why Stauffer et al couldn't have updated the description, but kept the name Maylandia?

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Dave Schumacher » Fri May 24, 2013 8:53 am

If I understand correctly, the issue is that the authors never properly diagnosed Maylandia, even with a poor description, which makes the name unavailable. This is why Stauffer et al described a new genus entirely. If it was simply a poor description, they could have just updated it.
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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by cichla » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:03 pm

Tachymarptis wrote: Anyway, as I wrote for now more than 10 years (and still consider as the most coherent), Maylandia and Metriaclima should step aside for Microchromis/Cynotilapia ... Patrick
I like the idea that all 'Metriaclima' / 'Maylandia' are actually Cynotilapia. The species of Cynotilapia and Metriaclima are not distinguishable in the shape of the skull and are genetically not separated (they even have hybrids in the lake). So, why not call all species these species Cynotilapia instead using Metriclima / Maylandia ?

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by Philippe Burnel » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:03 pm

cichla wrote:So, why not call all species these species Cynotilapia instead using Metriclima / Maylandia ?
That's exactly what Patrick has written so many years ago.
I'm happy to read that he's not alone to believe so.

Prabably the future will show he's right.

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Re: 5 New Metriaclima Species

Post by cichla » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:03 pm

Dear all, Dear Philippe,
funny enough, I wrote this few years ago too. But nobody jumped in. The sole difference is the form of the teeth. However, this is not a major feature in an evolutionary sense. Hence, it is seems best (at least from a conservative point of view, and to settle the dispute Metriaclima/Maylandia) to name all Metriaclima/Maylandia as Cynotilapia.

In taxonomy (as same for all science) it need evidences to introduce a new idea, and also consensus. However, there are often non-scientific reasons which prevents the obvious.
Cheers, Cichla

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