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قراءة كتاب North American Yellow Bats, 'Dasypterus,' and a List of the Named Kinds of the Genus Lasiurus Gray

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North American Yellow Bats, 'Dasypterus,' and a List of the Named Kinds of the Genus Lasiurus Gray

North American Yellow Bats, 'Dasypterus,' and a List of the Named Kinds of the Genus Lasiurus Gray

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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University of Kansas Publications
Museum of Natural History

Volume 14, No. 5, pp. 73-98, 4 figs.
December 29, 1961

North American Yellow Bats, "Dasypterus,"
And a List of the Named Kinds
Of the Genus Lasiurus Gray



University of Kansas


University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History

Editors: E. Raymond Hall, Chairman, Henry S. Fitch,
Theodore H. Eaton, Jr.

Volume 14, No. 5, pp. 73-98, 4 figs.
Published December 29, 1961

University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas


North American Yellow Bats, "Dasypterus,"
And a List of the Named Kinds
Of the Genus Lasiurus Gray




Yellow bats occur only in the New World and by most recent authors have been referred to the genus Dasypterus Peters. The red bats and the hoary bat, all belonging to the genus Lasiurus Gray, also occur only in the New World except that the hoary bat has an endemic subspecies in the Hawaiian Islands.

The kind of yellow bat first to be given a distinctive name was the smaller of the two species that occur in North America. It was named Nycticejus ega in 1856 (p. 73) by Gervais on the basis of material from the state of Amazonas, Brazil, South America, but was early recognized as occurring also in North America (in the sense that México and Central America, including Panamá, are parts of North America). More than 40 years elapsed before subspecific names were proposed for the North American populations; Thomas named Dasypterus ega xanthinus in 1897 (p. 544) from Baja California, and Dasypterus ega panamensis in 1901 (p. 246) from Panamá.

The larger of the two North American species was named Lasiurus intermedius in 1862 (p. 246) by H. Allen on the basis of material from extreme northeastern México. Another alleged species, Dasypterus floridanus, was named in 1902 (p. 392) by Miller from Florida, but as set forth below it is only a subspecies of L. intermedius, a species that is seemingly limited to parts of the North American mainland and Cuba.

A third species, Atalapha egregia, allegedly allied to the small yellow bat, L. ega, was named in 1871 (p. 912) by Peters from Santa Catarina, Brazil, but Handley (1960:473) thinks that L. egregius is allied instead to the red bats. The species L. egregius has not been studied in connection with the observations reported below.

Bats of the genus concerned were given the generic name Nycteris by Borkhausen in 1797 (p. 66), and the name Lasiurus by Gray in 1831 (p. 38). For much of the latter part of the 19th century the generic name Atalapha proposed by Rafinesque in 1814 (p. 12) was used because it antedated the name Lasiurus. In this period Harrison Allen (1894:137) raised to generic rank the name Dasypterus that had been proposed by Peters in 1871 (p. 912) only as a subgenus for the yellow bats. Since 1894 the yellow bats ordinarily have borne the generic name Dasypterus. The red bats and the hoary bat continued to be referred to as of the genus Atalapha until early in the 20th century when it was decided that a European bat of another genus was technically the basis for the name Atalapha. Thereupon Lasiurus was again used in the belief that it was the earliest available name for the bats concerned. But in 1909 (p. 90) Miller showed that the name Lasiurus was preoccupied by Nycteris Borkhausen, 1797 (p. 66). From 1909 until 1914 in conformance with the Law of Priority Nycteris was used for the red bat and the hoary bat.

At this point it is desirable to digress and indicate why and how the Law of Priority came into being. In the 19th century different technical names were used for the same kind of animal depending on the opinions of individual authors. For example, one author used name A because it was most descriptive of the morphology of the animal, another author used name B because it had been used more often than any other, another author used name C because it was more euphonious, etc. In order to achieve uniformity and stability a set of rules was drawn up in 1901 at the International Zoological Congress in Berlin. Those rules were based principally on the rule, or law, of priority. In effect, the law stated that the technical name first given to a kind of animal (with starting date as of January 1, 1758, Systema Naturae of Linnaeus) would be the correct and official name. After the mentioned rules were adopted, some zoologists, mostly non-taxonomists, objected to the rules and in response to these objections a compromise was adopted in 1913 at the International Zoological Congress in Monaco and the International Committee on Zoological Nomenclature was authorized to set aside, at its discretion, the Law of Priority. In 1913 it was thought by everyone that the names conserved (nomina conservanda) by setting aside the rules would be few.

Returning now to the generic names applied to the bats concerned, it is to be noted that from 1803 until 1909 Nycteris had been used as the generic name of an African bat on the erroneous assumption that the name was first applied in a valid fashion to the African bat. With the aim of conserving the name Nycteris for the African bat, some zoologists petitioned the International Committee on Zoological Nomenclature to set aside the Law of Priority and petitioned also that the name Lasiurus be validated for use again as the generic name for New World bats. This petition was granted in 1914 in the first lot of names for which exception to the rules was made. As a result, since 1914 Lasiurus has been used with increasing frequency, and Nycteris with decreasing frequency, for New World bats.

The above explanation of the application of the generic names Nycteris, Atalapha, and Lasiurus is given for two reasons: First, study of more abundant material than was available to Harrison Allen in 1894 when he raised Dasypterus to generic rank reveals, as set forth beyond, that the yellow bats are not generically different from the red bats and hoary bat and so will bear the same generic name that is applied to the red bat and hoary bat; second, a choice of generic names has to be made. Actually, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature since 1913 has voted to make many, instead of only a few, exceptions to the rules. The number of names resulting from these exceptions is becoming so large that some zoologists fear that the chaotic condition of nomenclature in the previous century will return. Those who hold such fears maintain that adherence to the rules of 1901, or to the Law of Priority, or at least to some rules, clearly is desirable. Certainly there is much logic in that view. According to the rules, Nycteris is the correct name of the bats concerned. According to the Commission, it is well to use instead the name Lasiurus. Perhaps the time has come to follow the rules and use Nycteris. But, because of the possibility that the Commission will return to its policy of 1913 and recommend only a few instead of many exceptions to the rules, the generic name Lasiurus is tentatively used in the following accounts.