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

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Lycaeides Hübner, 1819 . Verz. bekannt. Schmett. : 69.    [BHLBHL]

Available Name

Homonyms: 1

Higher classification:

Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser, 1779. Nomencl. Beschr. Ins. Grafschaft Hanau-Münzenburg : 76, pl.46, figs 1-2.

Type-species designation:
by subsequent designation by Int. Commn zool. Nom. , 1954. Opin. Decl. int. Commn zool. Nom. 6: 27 (Opinion 270).    [BHLBHL]

Type specimens:
? Type status ? COUNTRY: ? Locality, (? Depository)..

Hemming (1967) stated:-

[Page comment - Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser, [1779]] A nominal species to be interpreted under a direction given by the Commission in its Opinion 269 by reference to the photograph of the male genitalia figured by Chapman in 1917 (in Oberthur, étud. Lépidopt. comp. 14 : p1. VIII, fig. 23).

This is probably the most complicated case of a nominal genus based upon a misidentified type-species to be found anywhere in the butterflies. For not only did the author of this generic name misidentify with one well-known species, which for the moment may here be called Species "a", the species with which he was dealing (here for the moment called Species "B"), but, in addition, those specialists who recognized this misidentification, themselves applied to Species "B", a name which it was later discovered applied to a taxon which it was then agreed was specifically distinct from Species "B". This previously unrecognized species, which may here be termed Species "C", is structurally very distinct from Species "B" which it often closely resembles. The original mistake by Hübner was brought to the attention of the Commission by myself in 1935 and was rectified by the Commission by the Ruling given under the Plenary Powers in Opinion 169 promulgated in 1945 (Opin. int. Comm. zool. Nom. 2 : 431-442). It was hoped at the time that this decision would not only place the determination of the type-species of the genus Lycaeides Hübner on a firm foundation but also that it would provide Species "B" with a name unquestionably applicable to it. These hopes were dashed by the discovery that the taxon represented by the nominal species designated in Opinion 169 as the type-species of Lycaeides was not, as had always been supposed, Species "B", but the then-only-recently-recognized species, Species "C". After considerable discussion among specialists it was finally decided to ask the Commission to give rulings determining the names to be used for each of the three species discussed above, the interpretation of those names to be stabilized by reference to previously published figures of diagnostic structural characters ; it was part of this proposal that Species "B", for which there was no name nomenclatorially available, but various other names of doubtful interpretation, should be provided with a name unquestionaly applicable by validating a very early name (idas) which was at that time invalid under the Law of Homonymy as a junior homonym of a name published by Linnaeus in 1758 which it had never been possible to interpret but which certainly applied to a species belonging to an entirely different family. At the time when these proposals were being prepared, consideration was given to the question whether the Commission should be asked to vary the Ruling previously given in Opinion 169, So as to secure that the type-species of Lycaeides should be Species "B" (as had been intended) instead of Species "C" (the species actually designated as type-species by that Opinion). It was concluded however that such a request was unnecessary, since, as specialists are agreed, Species "B" and Species "C" are congeneric with one another ; in consequence, it was of no practical importance which of these two species was the type-species. These proposals were approved by the Commission in its Opinion 269 promulgated in 1954 (Opin. int. Comm. zool. Nom. 6 : 24, 1 pl.). The following notes show the specific names formerly incorrectly applied to these three species and the names which under the decision of the Commission are correctly applicable to them.

Hübner placed four nominal species in the genus Lycaeides. The first of these he called "Lycaeides argus Linn.", under which he cited "Hübn. Pap. 316-318" in synonymy. The second of these species Hübner called "L. aegon Schiff. Pap. N. 15", citing for it in synonymy the reference "Hübner. 313-315". In adopting this arrangement Hübner copied exactly the action taken in 1775 by Denis & Schiffermüller, the first authors clearly to separate Species "A" and Species "B" from one another, but unfortunately they applied to Species "B" the specific name argus Linnaeus, 1758, which properly applies to species "A" and then, having deprived that species of its rightful name, bestowed upon it the new specific name aegon. The authority of Schiffermüller's work was so great that his interpretation of the nominal species Papilio argus Linnaeus, 1758 remained uncorrected for nearly one hundred years, the first author to apply that name to species "A" instead of to Species "B" being Kirby in 1871 (Syn. Cat. diurn. Lep. : 357) ; at the same time (: 358) Kirby introduced the name Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser, [1779]. Kirby's arrangement came into general use and it was on this interpretation of Papilio argyrognonon that the Commission was asked to designate that species to be the type-species of Lycaeides Hübner, a request which (as already explained) that body granted in its Opinion 169. This was then believed to constitute a satisfactory settlement of this matter, for the designation of that nominal species as type-species gave valid force to the intention of Scudder when in 1875 (Proc. amer. Acad. Arts Sci., Boston 10 : 208) he selected the Lycaeides argus (Linnaeus) as interpreted by Hübner to be the type-species of this genus, adding by way of explanation that this was the species to which in his Syn. Cat. Kirby had applied the specific name argyrognomon Bergstrasser. This interpretation of the genus Lycaeides was accepted by subsequent workers and it was for this reason that (as explained above) the Commission was asked to designate Bergstrasser's species to be the type-species.

What turned out later to be the second phase of the present case was ushered in by the discovery in 1917 of a hitherto unrecognized species which, though superficially resembling Species "B", differed from it greatly in the form of the male genitalia. To this species, which is the species termed Species "C" in the present note, Chapman applied the name Plebeius aegus (in Oberthur, étud. Lépid. comp. 41 : 41-57). Later investigations showed that several previously named nominal taxa belonged not to Species "B", as previously supposed, but to Species "C". This led systematists to examine the older literature for the purpose of determining what was the oldest available name applicable to Species "C". This search proved laborious and difficult owing to the inadequacy of many of the early descriptions and figures. Ultimately, however, it was clearly established that the oldest available name for Species "C" was Papilio argyrognownon Bergstrasser, a conclusion which was finally clinched when material of Species "C" corresponding with Bergstrasser's figures, was obtained in the Bruchköbler Wald in the "Grafschaft Hanau-Münnzenburg", the type-locality of Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser.

The foregoing discovery at once raised two important questions : (1) Now that it was known that the name Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser applied not (as previously supposed) to Species "C" but to Species "B", should the Commission be asked to vary the Ruling given in its Opinion 161, in order to secure that (in accordance with the original intention) the type-species of Lycaeides Hübner should be Species "B"? (2) Now that it was known that the specific name argyrognomon Bergstrasser applied to Species "C", what specific name was properly applicable to Species "B"?

As regards Question (1) above, the view was taken that, although very distinct at the species-level, Species "B" and "C" should certainly be regarded as belonging taxonomically to the same genus as one another. From this point of view, therefore, it was immaterial which of these species should be accepted as the type-species of Lycaeides Hübner. It was accordingly decided that, from the taxonomic point of view, the Ruling in Opinion 161 that Papilio argyrognomon Bergstrasser should be accepted as the type-species of Lycaeides Hübner was perfectly satisfactory and that there were no need to ask the Commission to vary that Ruling. At the same time however it was decided to ask the Commission to give a Ruling which would secure that it was Species "C" (and not Species "B") to which the specific name argyrognomon Bergstrasser should be applied. For this purpose it was decided to ask the Commission to give a Ruling that the nominal species Papilio argyrognomon was to be interpreted by reference to a certain previously published figure of the male genitalia of Species "C" (figure 23 on plate VIII in volume 14 of Oberthur's étud. Lépid. comp).

As regards Question (2), it was found impracticable to determine with certainty what was the oldest available specific name which unquestionably applied to Species "B". There was however one ancient name which undoubtedly applied to Species "B" but which was invalid under the Law of Homonymy. This was Papilio idas Linnaeus, 1761 (Faun. svec. (ed. 2) : 284). This was invalid as a junior homonym of Papilio idas Linnaeus, 1758 (Syst. Nat. (ed. 10) : 488). This latter name applied to a species which it had never been found possible to interpret ; in consequence, no inconvenience of any kind would arise if the Commission were to suppress that name, while great advantage would be secured through the provision thereby for Species "B" of a specific name (idas Linnaeus, 1761) which undoubtedly applied to that species and which, when so validated, would be without question the oldest available name for this taxon. This therefore is the action which it was decided to ask the Commission to take. It was decided also to ask the Commission at the same time to direct that the foregoing nominal species be interpreted by reference to a previously published figure of the male genitalia of Species "B", the figure selected for this purpose being figure 7 on plate III of the volume of Oberthur's étud. Lépid. comp. cited above.

The proposals outlined above were approved by the Commission by the Ruling given in its Opinion 269 published in 1954, in which, inter alia, the specific name argyrognomon Bergstrasser, [1779], as published in the binomen Papilio argyrognomon, defined as proposed, was placed on the Official List of Specific Names in Zoology as Name No. 86. In the immediately following Opinion (Opinion 270) the generic name Lycaeides Hübner, [1819], with the above species as type-species, was placed on the Official List of Generic Names in Zoology as Name, No. 688.

Cowan (1970: 50) stated:-

Opinion 161 to read - 169.

The higher classification used here follows Lamas (2008).

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Junior name(s):
Lycaenides ; Zhdanko, 2002: 138.

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