Nomenclature of the dolphins, porpoises, and small whales: a review and guide to the early taxonomic literature

Thomas A. Jefferson

The taxonomy of several genera of small cetaceans has been confused for decades or even centuries. At least 358 species of dolphins, porpoises, and small whales have been given names, yet only 50 of these are currently recognized as valid species; the vast majority of the rest are junior synonyms. Recent taxonomic revisions of some genera have clarified things, but there are others that await taxonomic revision, which will probably recommend generic recombinations and new or resurrected species. As new taxonomic studies are resurrecting old species and sometimes describing new ones, an understanding of the available names is crucial to this task.  This monograph comprehensively reviews all 358 valid and invalid species of dolphins, porpoises, and small whales; documents their type specimens; summarizes the history of each name; and assigns a status to each. In addition, appendices discuss the early taxonomic literature, historical notes, and museum acronyms, and provide a glossary of relevant taxonomic terms. Ultimate goals are to help identify as many of the nomina dubia as possible, and to facilitate the inclusion of data and material (both morphological and molecular) from relevant type specimens into future taxonomic studies.

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