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Researchers unmask centuries-old elephant imposter
Date:11/5/2013

fetus was collected."

Researchers scrutinized references by Linnaeus to find a lectotype, which is a specimen that serves as a single type specimen for a species that was originally described by a set of syntypes.

They discovered Ray's detailed description of an elephant skeleton that he observed in Florence, Italy, in 1664. Today the specimen is at the National History Museum of the University of Florence.

Due to the specimen's size, bone structure and teeth wear, researchers determined that the skeleton was a 25 to 30-year-old female Asian Elephant. DNA analysis confirmed that the skeleton belongs to E. maximus.

In accordance with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, researchers designated the elephant skeleton in Florence, catalogue number MZUF-734, as the lectotype of E. maximus to "preserve the traditional understanding and application of this name to the Asian elephant." This change will go into effect in January of 2014.


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Contact: Nicholas Vasi
nvasi@illinois.edu
Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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