Reptile Database Reverses Courses, Places All Anoles Back Into Anolis

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The saga continues. Last December, the Reptile Database, the online listing of all recognized reptile species, issued an update in which anoles were split into the eight genera proposed by Nicholson et al. Now, in the subsequent update released yesterday, they’ve done an about-face and changed all anoles back to Anolis. Here’s what they have to say:

Anolis. After serious contemplation (and consultation with several experts) we changed the names of anoles back to Anolis. For some reasons see Poe et al. (2013) Zootaxa 3626 (2): 295–299.”

Interestingly, the very next item was this:

Teiidae. The names of many teiids have changed following the suggestions of  Harvey et al. (2012) Zootaxa 3459: 1–156. However, we are already getting complaints that this may not be tenable…”

So, seems like these issues may not necessarily be unique to anoles. The Reptile Database is a great resource for the herpetological community, but I don’t envy it the task of trying to decide when to change names and when not to. Moreover, since it has become so widely used, its decisions probably have an outsized impact on whether people adopt proposed changes or not.

In any case, for any readers who need to get up to speed, the Poe et al. paper referred to above was discussed several weeks ago, and the entire discussion thread on the proposed taxonomy of Nicholson et al. is probably best found by searching with the term “Nicholson” in the search bar to the right.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

2 thoughts on “Reptile Database Reverses Courses, Places All Anoles Back Into Anolis

  1. LMAO! You guys! I’m so glad embryonic cell lineages don’t change their names every 3 weeks. All we have to do as more subdivisions are discovered is add adjectives!

  2. I still believe most splitting is financially motivated. I remarked before about the pet trade: Anolis cristatellus selling for $5 but “Ctenonotus” cristatellus going for $25. But there is another way: peer-reviewed publication leads to academic advancement, pay raises, and tenure. Splitters favorably review each others’ papers and – bingo! Sorry: just the facts. Skip

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