A family's good name in jeopardy (homonymy)

Torleif Holthe Torleif.Holthe at vm.ntnu.no
Wed Jun 27 16:57:35 EST 2001

Yesterday one of our technicians came to me and asked if a worm and a fish 
family could share the same name.

The name in question was Polyodontidae, which he had found both in the 
collections as scale-worms and in my Norwegian text-book on systematic 
zoology as paddlefishes.

I answered that this was a case of homonymy, and suggested that the stems 
of the nominate genera might be identical or that one of the family names 
might be incorrectly formed. I mentioned  the case of Nephtys and Nephtya.

A quick search on the net gave a veritable stew of fish and worms and  the 
nominate genera as Polyodon and Polyodontes respectively.

Kirkegaard (1992, Danmarks fauna) gives  Buchanan, 1894 as auctor  of 
the  polychaete family, whereas  Hartman (1959, catalogue) gives 
Pflugfelder, 1934.

I contacted my friend, the ichthyologist Per Pethon at the Zoological 
Museum, University of Oslo who replied:
Paddlefishes, Polyodontidae A. Günther,. 1870 (Catalogue of the Fishes in 
the British Museum VIII,p.346.)

I shall leave any further action on this homonymy to specialists on 
nomenclature or scale-worms.

Looking forward to meeting many of you in Reykjavik next week


<Torleif.Holthe at vm.ntnu.no>

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