Butterflies and Moths of the World Generic Names and their Type-species

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Heliconius Latreille, 1804 . Nouv. Dict. Hist. nat. 24(Tab.) : 185, 199.

Junior Homonym

Homonyms: 3

Higher classification:

Papilio charithonia Linnaeus, 1767. Systema Naturae (Edn 12), : 757.    [BHLBHL]

Type-species designation:
by subsequent designation by Hemming , 1933. Entomologist 66(844): 198.

Type specimens:
See BHL scanned Type-species page: .

Hemming (1967) stated:-

In the work cited above Latreille gave a diagnosis for this genus on page 185 but did not cite any nominal species ; on page 199 however in a comparison of his system with that of Fabricius he cited Papilio ricini Linnaeus and Papilio charithonia Linnaeus (both attributed by him to Fabricius). It should be noted here that Latreille noted (on page 95) that this was a new genus by placing an asterisk against it.

The subsequent history of this name from the nomenclatorial point of view is, for one hundred and thirty years, one of continuous misunderstanding ; numerous attempts were made to select a type-species for this genus, but these all failed because none of the species so selected was included in the genus when it was first established by Latreille in 1804. In some cases this seems to have been due to the authors who made the selections erroneously taking one of Latreille's later publications as having been that in which he first published the name Heliconius, while in others it seems to have been due solely to inadvertence. It might have been hoped that in this, as in many other cases, Latreille might have made a valid type-selection for this genus in his celebrated Consid. gén. of 1810 ; but unfortunately in that work he cited two species, instead of one only, as "espéces typiques"; moreover neither of the species which he then cited (Papilio polymnia Linnaeus and Papilio aorta Linnaeus, both attributed by Latreille to Fabricius, because it was with that author's system that he was then comparing his own) had been included in Heliconius in 1804. There follow three type-selections all of which are invalid, because the species so selected were not originally included species of this genus. The pseudotypes so set up are the following : (a) Papilio psidii Linnaeus, specified by Crotch in 1872 (Cistula ent. 1 : 60) ; (b) Papilio antiochus Linnaeus, specified by Scudder in 1875 (Proc. amer. Acad. Arts Sci., Boston 10 : 185) ; (c) Papilio melpomene Linnaeus, specified by Kirby in 1894 (in Allen's Nat. Libr., Lepid. 1 : 41). The genus Heliconius Latreille remained without a valid type-species until in 1933 I selected as such Papilio charithonia Linnaeus, the second of the two species placed in this genus by Latreille 1804.

The name Heliconius Latreille is invalid as a junior homonym of the name Heliconius Kluk ; it is invalid also as being a junior objective synonym of that name. In 1956 this name was placed by the Commission in its Opinion 382 on the Official Index of Rejected and Invalid Generic Names in Zoology as Name No. 383.

The higher classification used here follows Lamas (2008).

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Search the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) for references to HELICONIUS and included species.

Senior name:
Heliconius Kluk, 1780: 82.

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