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Paolo Parenti*

Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e del Territorio e di Scienze della Terra, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy

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Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, is shown to be a senior synonym of the meagre, Argyrosomus re-gius (Asso, 1801). Conditions exist, however, to allow “reversal of precedence” of the two names, as provided by Article 23.9.1 of the international Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Thus, Argyrosomus regius (Asso, 1801), is regarded as valid, qualifying as a nomen protectum, while the name Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, is recognized as invalid, qualifying as a nomen oblitum.


Perca luth, Argyrosomus regius, Nomenclature

Özet: Argyrosomus regius (Asso, 1801) (Perciformes: Sciaenidae),’un senior eşlanlamlısı olan Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, isminin “öncelik iptali”

Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, ismi Argyrosomus regius (Asso, 1801)’ın senior eşlanlamlısı olarak gösterilmektedir. Koşullar var olduğunda, Uluslararası Zoolojik Adlandırma Kanunu’nun 23.9.1 numaralı kanun maddesi tarafından iki ismin “öncelik iptali” ne izin ver-miştir. Bu nedenle, “nomen oblitum” olarak tanımlanan Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, ismi geçersiz sayılırken, “nomen proctetum (korunan ad)” olarak tanımlanan Argyrosomus re-gius (Asso, 1801) ismi kabul görmektedir.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Perca luth, Argyrosomus regius, Terminoloji

In his compilation of genera and species of fishes Walbaum (1792) listed 75 specific names under the genus Perca, including a number of nomina oblita (20) whose status remained un-certain for two centuries. Quite recently, Parenti (2003) reviewed the status of this assemblage of fish names and was able to place all of them into synonymy of well-established fish names. The name Perca luth, which was also included by Walbaum in his account (1792:334), was over-looked because regarded as not original and thus it was not treated by Parenti (2003). However, a recent re-examination of the Walbaum’s compi-lation led this name to be restored as available name (Eschmeyer, 2012).

The name Perca (Luth) appeared as such for the first time in Hasselquist (1762: 402) preced-ing the description of a percoid fish encountered by the author in his travel to Palestine. This name is treated as not available from this author be-cause published in a rejected work (ICZN Opin-ion 57) and also regarded as vernacular, non-sci-entific name. However, the name is available from Walbaum (1792:334).

Walbaum listed Perca luth as eighteenth spe-cies of the genus Perca and he amassed the spe-cies together with others belonging to highly di-verse percoid families. As for other species, the name is followed by a brief diagnosis and by a second paragraph which include a somewhat de-tailed description. The diagnosis of P. luth is the same as provided by Hasselquist (dentibus longi-usculis, distichis, acuminatis,inferioribus dupli-catis), whilst the description is compiled in a more schematic way according to the Walbaum’s style. A translation of the description is here pro-vided.

Perca, Luth. Br. 7. D. 3/20, 1/30. P. 17. V. 6. A… C. 20. Body compressed, elongate. Head of similar shape. Snout a little pointed. Upper jaw longer and larger than lower jaw. Tongue, inte-rior of the mouth and palate smooth and yellow. Teeth in upper jaw considerably long, conical, bowed, separated, posterior shorter; in lower jaw similar, however twice shorter and doubled near the apex. Head and operculum scaled; upper opercular margin serrate and with a spine, lower one as in other species of the genus. Dorsal fin in two parts, anterior with 10 spines. First very short, eighth and ninth with strong spines, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 more flexible; 30 posterior rays, the first spinuous, the remnant soft. Caudal fin rounded.Anus and lateral line as in the congeners. Habitat in Red Sea.

By comparing the description given by Wal-baum with that provided by Hasselquist it can be noticed that some traits were omitted, probably regarded of lesser importance by Walbaum. Among these there are: i) the convex shape of the head below the eye (lateribus sub oculis con-vexum, pone perpendiculare); ii) a large mouth (rictus oris magnus); iii) the shape of the tongue (magna, cartilaginea, apice obtusa, depressa, basi convexiuscula, subtus ad basin palato liga-mento adnexa, antice libera); iv) the description of the nostrils (nares proxime ante oculos utrinque binae, admodum remotae; posteriores transversaliter elliptcae, ampliusculae, anteri-ores angustiores orbiculatae); v) the shape of the dorsal profile (dorsum parum a capite assur-gens; ante pinna dorsi convexum; ab illo ad cau-dam sensim declive, acuminatum), the flank (latera convexa supra linea lateralis attenuata) and the belly (abdomen convexum); vi) the shape of the branchiostegal rays (I maximum arcuatum, exterius gibbus, reliqua ordine minora. Bran-chiae ut in reliquis); vii) the position of pectorals (prope abdomen acuminate); and viii) the size (magnitudo Scienae primae).

In one aspect Walbaum was wrong: the type locality. Hasselquist reported that the fish came from Damietta (Habitat cum prima & reliquis promiscue circa litora Damiatae), whereas Wal-baum indicated the Red Sea (habitat in mari ru-bro). Damietta , also known as Damiata or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about 200 kilometers north of Cairo. Perhaps Walbaum was misled by read-ing that Arabian knew the fish as luth, as reported by Hasselquist (Arabis Luth) and believed the specimen inhabiting the Red Sea. The author is unable to find a different explanation for chang-ing the type locality of P. luth.

Although Walbaum omitted a number of fea-tures reported in the original description by Has-selquist, there is no doubt that P. luth represents a senior synonym of the meagre Argyrosomus re-gius (Asso, 1801). Several features, including meristics, general shape of the body and caudal fin, and in particular the color of the internal of the mouth allow positive identification of the species.

The consequence of the discovery that an older name predates a long-established one ne-cessitates nomenclatural actions. The Interna-tional Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999) states that the Principle of Priority is to be used to promote stability and not to upset long-accepted names. Therefore, in accordance with that Princi-ple, the application of reversal of precedence of two names and the continuation of prevailing us-age of a younger synonym is allowed when two conditions are met (see Article 23.9). These con-ditions are: (1) a name has not been used as valid since 1899 (Article and (2) the valid name has been used as such in at least 25 works, published by at least 10 authors during the past 50 years, and encompassing a span not less than ten years (Article Condition (1) and condition (2) exist for Perca luth and for Argyro-somus regius, respectively, to allow “reversal of precedence” of the two names. Argyrosomus re-gius (Asso, 1801), is thus regarded as valid, qualifying as a nomen protectum, while Perca luth Walbaum, 1792, is recognized as invalid, qualifying as nomen oblitum. As evidence that conditions of Article have been met see Appendix 1:

Appendix 1.

Published works that cite Argyrosomus regius as valid, thus fulfilling the require-ments of Article of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, 1999), are as follows: Arruda L.M. 1997, Checklist of the marine fishes of the Azores, Arquivos do Museu Bocage (Nova série) 3(2): 13-164; Bainbridge, R., 1958, The speed of swimming as related to size and to the frequency and amplitude of the tail beat, Journal of Experimental Biology 35(1):109-133; Bilecenoglu, M., E. Taskavak, S. Mater and M. Kaya, 2002, Checklist of the marine fishes of Turkey, Zootaxa 113:1-194; Cav-erivière, A. and G.A.R. Andriamirado, 1997, Minimal fish predation for the pink shrimp Penaeus notalis in Senegal (West Af-rica), Bulletin of Marine Science 61(3):685-695; Chakroun, N. and M.H. Ktari, 1981, Diet of the Sciaenidae (Fishes, Teleosteans) of the Tunis Bay, Bulletin de l’Institut Na-tional de Science et Technique d'Océanogra-phie et de Pêche de Salammbô 8: 69-80; Chao, L.N. and E. Trewavas, 1990, Sciaeni- dae, p.813-826. In J.C. Quero et al. (eds.) Check-list of the fishes the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA), UNESCO, Paris, vol 2; Coull, K.A., A.S. Jermyn, A.W. Newton, G.I. Henderson and W.B. Hall, 1989, Length/weight relationships for 88 species of fish encountered in the North Atlantic, Scot-tish Fisheries Research Report 43: 1-80; Costa, F., 199, Atlante dei pesci dei mari italiani, Gruppo Ugo Mursia Editore S.p.A. Milano, Italy, 438 p.; Dor, M.1984, Checklist of the fishes of the Red Sea, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 437 p.; Economidis, P.S., 1973, Catalogue of the fishes of Greece, reprinted from Hellenic Oceanology and Limnology, Praktika of the Institute of Oceanography and Fishing Re-search, vol. 11 (1972); Griffiths, M.H. and P.C. Heemstra, 1995, A contribution to the taxonomy of the marine fish ge-nus Argyrosomus (Perciformes: Sciaenidae), with descriptions of two new species from southern Africa, Ichthyological Bulletin, J.L.B. Smith Insttute of Ichthyology 65, 1-40; Lindsey, C.C., 1978. Form, function and lo-comotory habits in fish. p. 1-100. In W. S. Hoar and D. J. Randall (eds.) Fish Physiol-ogy VII. Academic Press, New York; Lyth-goe J, and G. Lythgoe, 1992, Fishes of the sea. The North Atlantic and Mediterranean. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 256 pp.; Muus, B.J. and J.G. Nielsen, 1999. Sea fish. Scandinavian Fishing Year Book, Hedehusene, Denmark. 340 p.; Nijssen, H. and S.J. de Groot, 1974. Catalogue of fish species of the Netherlands. Beaufortia 21(285):173-207; Parin, N. V. 2003, An an-notated catalogue of fish-like vertebrates and fishes of the seas of Russia and adjacent countries: Part 3. Orders Perciformes (ex-cluding suborders Gobioidei, Zoarcoidei and Stichaeoidei) and Tetraodontiformes, Vo-prosy Ikhtiologii 43 (suppl. 1): S1-S40; Poli, B.M., Parisi, G., Mecatti, M., Lupi, P., Iur-zan, F., Zampacavallo, G. & Gilmozzi, M. 2001a.The meagre (Argyrosomus regius), a new species for Mediterranean aquaculture. 1. Morphological, merchantable and nutri-tional traits in a commercial wide size-range. European Aquaculture Society Special Pub-lication, 29: 209–210; Quéro, J.-C. and J.-J. Vayne, 1987, Le maigre, Argyrosomus re-gius (Asso 1801) (Pisces, Perciformes, Sci-aenidae) du Golfe de Gascogne et des eaux plus septentrionales, Revue des Travaux de Péches Maritime 49(1-2):35-66; Quignard, J.-P. and J.A. Tomasini, 2000, Mediterranean fish biodiversity, Biologia Marina Mediter-ranea 7(3):1-66; Reiner, F., 1996, Catálogo dos peixes do Arquipélago de Cabo Verde. Publicações avulsas do IPIMAR No. 2: 339 pp.; Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea and W.B. Scott, 1991, World fishes important to North Americans. Exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. American Fishery Society Spe-cial Publications 21: 243 p.

Rochard, E. and P. Elie, 1994. La macrofaune aquatique de l'estuaire de la Gi-ronde. Contribution au livre blanc de l'Agencie de l'Eau Adour Garonne. p. 1-56. In J.-L. Mauvais and J.-F. Guillaud (eds.) État des connaissances sur l'estuaire de la Gi-ronde. Agence de l'Eau Adour-Garonne, Éditions Bergeret, Bordeaux, France. 115 p.; Saad, A., 2005. Check-list of bony fish col-lected from the coast of Syria, Turkish Jour-nal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 5: 99-106; Soljan, T., 1975. I pesci dell'Adriatico. Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Verona, Italy; Swaby, S.E. and G.W. Potts, 1990. Rare British marine fishes - identification and con-servation, Journal of Fish Biology 37(Suppl. A):133-143.


Asso, I. de, (1801). Introduccion á la ichthyologia oriental de España, Anales de CienciasNaturales, Instituto de José de Acosta, Madrid 4(10): 28-52.

Eschmeyer, W.N., (ed). Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences ( Electronic version accessed 7 June 2012.

Hasselquist, F., (1762). D. Friedrich Hasselquists, der Akademien der Wissenschaftenzu Stockholm und UpsalaMitglieds, ReisenachPalästina in demJahren von 1749 bis 1752. Johann Christian Koppe, Rostok.

ICZN. (1999). International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Fourth edition, adopted by the International Union of Biological Sciences. International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, The Natural History Museum, London.

Parenti, P., (2003). On the status of the species classified in the genus Percaby Johann Julius Walbaum, Zoological Studies, 42(4): 491–505.

Walbaum, J.J., (1792). Petri ArtediSueci Genera piscium. In quibussystematotumichthyologiaeproponitur cum classibus, ordinibus, generumcharacteribus, specierumdifferentiis, observationibusplurimis, Pars III. Ant. Ferdin. Rose, Greifswald.

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