Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/17

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THE CLASSIFICATION OF FISHES.

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Ostracion, he proposed the name Acanthostracion, for the species with horns, tricornis being the type. But Acanthostracion has not been usually adopted except as the name of a section under Lactophrys. The three-angled American species are usually set apart from the fourangled species of Asia, and our cuckold is called Lactophrys tricornis. But it may be with perfect correctness called Ostracion tricorne in the spirit called conservative. Or with the radical systematists we may accept the finer definition and again correctly call it Acanthostracion tricorne. But to call it quadricornis, or listeri, or maculatus, with any generic name, whatever, would be to violate the law of priority.

By trinomial nomenclature we mean the use of a second, subordinate specific name to designate a geographic subspecies, variety or other intergrading race. Thus Salmo clarki virginalis indicates the variety of Clark's trout, or the cut-throat trout, found in the lakes and streams of the Great Basin of Utah, as distinguished from the genuine Salmo clarkii of the Columbia.

Trinomials are not much used among fishes, as we are not yet able to give most of these local forms correct and adequate definitions such as is awarded to similar variations among birds and mammals. Some of these forms will turn out to be real species, while others represent slight individual variations. It will take long study of much material to define these two sorts of subspecies and to separate one from the other. It is easier to preserve and to study birds than fishes and more people are engaged in it. For this reason the fine discrimination of variant forms has been possible much earlier in ornithology than in ichthyology.