In an age of biodiversity crisis and concomitant urgency to achieve a comprehensive inventory of living forms, many taxonomists have strongly opposed the apparent tendency for new taxa to be described from photographs without a preserved physical specimen [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. Following intense debate, the latter position was not endorsed by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature, which via Declaration 45  opted to maintain flexibility in the articles governing species description. We congratulate their decision which, in our opinion, prevents taxonomy from taking a step backwards from its main goal: universality. Despite the undisputed role played by the holotype in species descriptions, we believe that the rhetoric in favour of making the Code less flexible is not only precariously grounded [7,8], but also endangers nomenclatural stability and progress in taxonomy, with potentially negative consequences for knowledge of biodiversity. This claim, combined with the growing demands for genetic analysis of newly described taxa , rather than ensuring the overall quality of such descriptions, potentially increases reliance of laboratories in developing countries (where the real wealth in terms of new species is concentrated) on first-world facilities in a totally unnecessary type of modern scientific imperialism. The ICZN Code has the mission of providing a solid system that guarantees the highest possible stability in nomenclature, yet simultaneously must be sufficiently flexible to be universal, incorporating changes dictated by our time and cultural diversity. Nowadays, it successfully manages to bridge all philosophical gaps intrinsic to taxonomy as a discipline in a highly dynamic world. However, it must be clear that both simplicity and flexibility of the articles governing descriptions of new species-group names are not casual. They play an important role in the Code’s inclusiveness and should be preserved in its forthcoming editions. Nevertheless, we do believe that greater clarification of the specifics in cases of new species descriptions wherein a physical holotype is not needed should be considered by the Commission.
One of us (Raposo) was one of 493 co-signatories to the letter by Ceríaco et al. (2016), but subsequently, having published a philosophical view of the case (Raposo & Kirwan 2017) and participated in public discussions, his opinion has altered considerably, specifically regarding the opinion expressed in that letter that a physical holotype should be an obligation. We thank all that have given their precious time to discuss the subject with us.
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