Proposal (#4) to South American Classification Committee

 

Change the name of Forpus crassirostris to Forpus xanthopterygius

 

I'd like to propose a name substitution for one taxon:

Forpus crassirostris (Blue-winged Parrotlet)

 

I think the proper name for this species is Forpus xanthopterygius. The case for reinstatement of the name xanthopterygius was made by Bret M. Whitney and Jose Fernando Pacheco, 1999, The valid name for Blue-winged Parrotlet and designation of the lectotype of Psittaculus xanthopterygius Spix, 1824, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 119 (4): 211-214. I will try to summarize their arguments below, but interested parties also should consult their paper (either out of general curiosity, or in case I get some of my facts wrong).

 

1). Spix (1824) described Psittacula xanthopterygius on the basis of two specimens from Brazil. No single specimen was designated as a type (I haven't verified this myself directly from Spix, but Whitney and Pacheco specifically state that this was the case, and it seems reasonable given typically "loose" practices at the time regarding the importance of types).

 

2). Later authors (Salvadori 1891, Hellmayr 1905 [1906?]) recognized that Spix's two birds represented two different species, Brotogeris chiriri Vieillot 1817 and Forpus passerina vivida Ridgway 1888.

 

3). The name xanthopterygius was resurrected by Gyldenstolpe (1945) in a revision of Forpus.

 

4). Pinto (1945) considered xanthopterygius, based as it was on a composite of two taxa, to be invalid, and argued that crassirostris Taczanowski 1883 was the earliest available name for the group that Gyldenstolpe called xanthopterygius.

 

5). Since then some authors (e.g., Meyer de Schauensee 1966, Forshaw1973, Monroe and Sibley 1993) have followed Gyldenstolpe and used the name Forpus xanthopterygius, whereas other authors (Stotz et al. 1996, Collar 1997) have followed Pinto (1945) and used the name Forpus crassirostris.

 

6). A name does remain available, even if based on more than one taxon. Since there no type was specified by Spix (nor any subsequent revisor), Whitney and Pacheco designated the Spix specimen of a Forpus, "which has no formal museum catalogue number but which is clearly labeled with reference to the original description by Spix", as the lectotype of Forpus xanthopterygius.

 

7). I have to swallow hard here, since the name "xanthopterygius" clearly describes the *other* Spix specimen, the Brotogeris.

 

However, this would be far from the first case in which a name that is valid is not the "best" name. And by fixing a lectotype, Whitney and Pacheco made a move that should bring stability to what had been an unstable, messy situation. Therefore, I think that Forpus xanthopterygius becomes the name for the species, and that this is the name that we should adopt.

 

Tom Schulenberg, 22 Feb. 2001