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Taxonomic vandalism

23.07.2020

In fact, Spracklandus is the center of a heated debate within the world of taxonomy—one that could help determine the future of an entire scientific field. And Raymond Hoser, the Australian researcher who gave Spracklandus its official name, is one of the forefront figures in that debate.

By the numbers, Hoser is a taxonomy maven. Between 2000 and 2012 alone, Hoser named three-quarters of all new genera and subgenera of snakes; overall, he’s named over 800 taxa, including dozens of snakes and lizards. But prominent taxonomists and other herpetologists—including several interviewed for this piece—say that those numbers are misleading.

According to them, Hoser isn’t a prolific scientist at all. What he’s really mastered is a very specific kind of scientific "crime": taxonomic vandalism.

Smithsonian.com spoke with some of these alleged vandals, and the scientists trying to stop them and save this scientific system.

Just Hinrich Kaiser, a researcher at Victor Valley College in California and currently a guest scientist at Museum Koenig, assumed with colleagues in the peer-reviewed journal Herpetological Review: “Although the AJH -  the Australasian Journal of Herpetology   - masquerades as a scientific journal, it is perhaps better described as a printed ‘blog’ because it lacks many of the hallmarks of formal scientific communication, and includes much irrelevant information.

The scientific community currently seems almost unanimous in its decision not to use Hoser's nomenclature, wrote herpetologist Wolfgang Denzer (Herpetologist - Society for Southeast Asian Herpetology in Berlin) in a critical review of Hoser's new descriptions in "our" Open Access Journal "Bonn zoological Bulletin".

The whole article can be seen here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-big-ugly-problem-heart...

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