Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Simon Coppard recently co-authored an article published in The Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature. The article was written with Andreas Kroh and Omri Bronstein of Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (the Natural History Museum) in Vienna.
According to its website, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature “regulates a uniform system of zoological nomenclature ensuring that every animal has a unique and universally accepted scientific name.”
This is done via a set of rules and recommendations on the naming of animals called the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. When a problem arises that threatens nomenclatural stability and universality, the Commission can use its plenary power to suspend application of any particular provision of the Code.
In “Case 3763 — Stenonaster Lambert, 1922 and Stenonasteridae Lambert, 1922 (Echinodermata, Echinoidea): proposed conservation by reversal of precedence of Stenocorys Lambert, 1917 and Stenocoridae Lambert, 1920,” Coppard and his coauthors have asked the Commission to conserve the widely used heart urchin generic name Stenonaster Lambert, 1922 (Echinoidea, Stenonasteridae) which is threatened by its senior objective synonym Stenocorys Lambert, 1917.
The authors said that Stenocorys Lambert, 1917 “was erroneously considered a junior homonym of Stenocoris Burmeister, 1839 (Arthropoda, Hemiptera, Alydidae) and Stenocoris Rambur, 1839 (= Paromius Fieber, 1861; Arthropoda, Hemiptera, Rhyparochromidae).”
They noted that “the name Stenonaster has been explicitly used in the geological and palaeontological literature for the last 100 years whereas its senior objective synonym, Stenocorys, has not been used since it was (erroneously) replaced by Stenonaster. Stenonaster is the type-genus of the family Stenonasteridae.”
Coppard and his co-authors argue that reverting the genus name to its senior synonym would necessitate changing the name of this family, which would lead to nomenclatural instability and confusion in the literature.