Bungled Bungarus: lessons from a venomous snake complex illustrate why taxonomic decisions belong in taxonomy-competent journals
In response to an article in a toxinology specialty journal by Sunagar et al. (2021), in which the authors proposed a name for a new species of krait in the Bungarus caeruleus group, Dubois et al. (2021: 120) reminded herpetologists (for the third time) that it is “high time that taxonomists follow the Code.” While the paper in question provided interesting new insights into the genetic basis of variation in venom composition among Indian kraits and revealed previously unsuspected patterns of genetic diversity in the B. caeruleus group, the authors also coined the new species name “romulusi” in a manner not compliant with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN 1999; hereafter the Code), which rendered the name invalid. While Dubois et al. (2021) outlined the nomenclatural issues, we feel that there were additional lessons that should be learned about best practices in the publication of taxonomic decisions (Kaiser et al. 2013) from this unfortunate episode.