Nomenclature and historical perspective

Macrobrachium rosenbergii was one of the first species of the genus known to western science. The first recognisable figure of it was published (as Figure B of Plate 1) in 'D'Amboinsche Rariteitkamer' (Rumphius 1705). However, this excellent figure did not originate from Rumphius' original manuscript but was added later by the editor, Simon Schijnvoet, who wanted the book more richly illustrated. To that end he had figures made of a number of specimens in the many Dutch cabinets of natural curiosities ofthat time and added them to Rumphius' manuscript. Most of these additional specimens did not originate from Ambon (Moluccas, Indonesia), the site of Rumphius' research, and usually were not labelled as to their original locality. Fortunately, such additional illustrations were carefully indicated as such in the text. Figure B of Plate 1 in that volume was made after a specimen in the collection of Henricus d'Acquet (1632-1706), a physician who was burgomaster of Delft, and had a very rich natural history cabinet. The original figure, reproduced in this chapter of our book as Figure 2.1, is still extant and is held by the Instituut voor de Tropen (Institute for the Tropics) in Amsterdam. It is of good quality, but unfortunately it is not provided with a legend, so that the origin of the depicted animal is unknown.

The first good written account of the species is provided by Herbst (1792), who gave a good description and an illustration (as Figure 1 of his Plate 28) under the incorrect name Cancer (Astacus)carcinus Linnaeus, 1758. Linnaeus' Cancer carcinus, however, is an American species of Macrobrachium, which Herbst (1792) also described and illustrated (as Figure 2 of his Plate 27) but as a new species under the name Cancer (Astacus) jamaicensis. Herbst's descriptions and illustrations so clearly characterised the two species that his nomenclature was adopted by most subsequent authors and, during the following 150 years, the specific name carcinus was generally used for the present East Indian species and that of jamaicensis for the American one. In the meanwhile, J.G. De Man (1879) found a new species from New Guinea which he named Palaemon rosen-bergii. The first person who challenged Herbst's nomenclature was Sunier (1925), who showed that Linnaeus'

Fig. 2.1 Original figure of M. rosenbergii (De Man) illustrated in Rumphius (1705). (Source: by courtesy of the Instituut voor de Tropen, Amsterdam.)

description of Cancer carcinus was solely based on material of the American species named jamaicensis by Herbst (1792). Sunier (1925) accepted the nomenclatural consequences of his discovery and replaced the name jamaicensis by carcinus, and proposed the new specific name dacqueti for the Indo-West Pacific species, honouring thereby burgomaster d'Acquet. In 1950, Sunier's views were confirmed (Holthuis 1950), except that it was pointed out that the name Palaemon rosenbergii De Man, 1879, for the IndoWest Pacific species is actually older than P. dacqueti Sunier, 1925. It therefore had precedence and the specific name rosenbergii had to be used for the Asian species. However, as will be discussed later, the name 'M. rosenbergii actually includes two distinct species, a situation that causes even more problems.

So, while the nomenclature ofthe species has been rather muddled, the situation is not that much better at the genus level. When Weber (1795) established the new genus name Palaemon, he placed in it three described species (and six invalid nomina nuda, i.e. unavailable names). These three species at present are assigned to the genera Palaemon and Macrobrachium. For the next half century, most authors used the name Palaemon in Weber's sense for both genera. Stimpson (1860) was the first to split Palaemon. He kept the name Palaemon for the species that at present is assigned to Macrobrachium and used the name Leander for species now known as Palaemon. It was the American carcinolo-gist Mary Jane Rathbun (1897), who first pointed out that the first valid type selection for the genus Palaemon was by Latreille (1810). who selected as the type species for that genus Cancer squilla Linnaeus, 1758, a species at present assigned to the genus Palaemon, but at that time usually indicated as Leander squilla. Rathbun then correctly pointed out that the genus that until then had usually been given the name Leander should be known as Palaemon Weber, 1795, and that what most zoologists at that time named Palaemon had to be called Macrobrachium Bate, 1868. Rathbun's nomenclaturally correct decision was accepted by most American authors, but most of the European zoologists stuck to Leander and Palaemon as used by Stimpson (1860). The confusion caused by this usage of the name Palaemon in two different senses finally led to a request to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature for a decision in this matter, in order to restore the uniformity in the use of the various names. In 1959 the Commission decided on this case (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 1959), and their Opinion 564, 'directed that the nominal genus Palaemon Weber, 1795, shall be cited as having as its type species the nominal species Palaemon adspersus Rathke, 1837'. Palaemon adspersus was the oldest available synonym of Cancer squilla Linnaeus, 1758, a species name that for other reasons had been suppressed by the Commission. This meant that

Rathbun's views were now officially accepted. Since then, the name Macrobrachium Bate, 1868, has been universally used for the present genus. After having been known for about a century and a half as Palaemon carcinus, the species that forms the major topic of our book is now definitively known under the nomenclaturally correct name of Macrobrachium rosenbergii. It was only through the action of the Commission that the undesirable nomenclatural confusion ended and uniformity and stability in the nomenclature of this important species was established.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

Learning About 10 Ways Fight Off Cancer Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life The Best Tips On How To Keep This Killer At Bay Discovering that you or a loved one has cancer can be utterly terrifying. All the same, once you comprehend the causes of cancer and learn how to reverse those causes, you or your loved one may have more than a fighting chance of beating out cancer.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment