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Contributions to Zoology, 72 (2/3) (2003)

An interesting case of homonymy: Notopus de Haan, 1841 (Crustacea, Raninidae; Recent) and Notopus Leonardi, 1983 (ichnofossil; Devonian)

Barry W.M. van Bakel , John W.M. Jagt , René H.B. Fraaije

Schepenhoek 235, NL-5403 GB Uden, the Netherlands

Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht, de Bosquetplein 6-7, P.O. Box 882, NL-6200 AW Maastricht, the Netherlands

Oertijdmuseum de Groene Poort, Bosscheweg 80, NL-5283 WB Boxtel, the Netherlands

Keywords: Homonymy, Crustacea, ichnofossils, Notopus


Upper Cretaceous strata in the type area of the Maastrichtian Stage (SE Netherlands, NE Belgium) have yielded comparatively abundant and diverse raninid assemblages (Collins et al., 1995; Fraaye & van Bakel, 1998). To date, seven species are known: Eumorphocorystes sculptus, Pseudoraninella muelleri, Lyreidina pyriformis, Raninoides? quadrispinosus, Raniliformis chevrona, Raniliformis prebaltica and Raniliformis occlusa. These occur mainly from the upper portion of the Maastricht Formation [Emael, Nekum and Meerssen members, Belemnitella junior and Belemnella (Neobelemnella) kazimiroviensis biozones].


The status of two of these species, Eumorphocorystes sculptus and Pseudoraninella muelleri, both assigned to the Notopodinae as now defined (Tucker, 1998), is currently the subject of a study by van Bakel, Jagt & Fraaije. For this ongoing project, we have recently conducted a literature search and come across an interesting case of homonymy, involving the generic name Notopus.


De Haan (1841) erected the genus Notopus, type species N. dorsipes de Haan, for an extant raninid from Japanese waters, which Serène & Umali (1972) subsequently designated type genus of the subfamily Notopinae [sic] (= Notopodinae). The second introduction of the name Notopus, type ichnospecies N. petri, involves an ichnofossil from the Devonian of Paran·, Brazil (Leonardi, 1983: 236). Leonardi interpreted this as the imprint of the left front limb of an amphibian. Roek & Rage (1994), who restudied Leonardi’s original material, were of the opinion that this ichnofossil taxon did not represent part of an amphibian trackway, but rather was similar to traces of an asteroid or ophiuroid, comparable to the ichnofossil genus Asteriacites von Schlotheim.

Irrespective of the correct assignment of this ichnotaxon, Notopus Leonardi, 1983 (non de Haan, 1841) is in need of a substitute name, the more so since ichnotaxon names compete with (palaeo)zoological taxa (A.K. Rindsberg, pers. comm., June 2001). We here suggest:

Allophylichnus ichnogen. nov. (type ichnospecies: Notopus petri)

Etymology: from the Latin allophylus, meaning “strange” or “foreign”, in reference to the taxonomic, stratigraphic as well as geographic distance between an extant crab genus and a Devonian ichnogenus.


Collins JSH, Fraaye RHB & Jagt JWM. 1995. Late Cretaceous anomurans and brachyurans from the Maastrichtian type area. Acta palaeont. pol. 40: 165-210.

de Haan W. 1833-1850. Crustacea. In: Siebold PF von (ed.). Fauna Japonica, sive descriptio animalium, quae in itinere per Japoniam, jussu et auspiciis superiorum, qui summum in India Batava Imperium tenent, suscepto, annis 1823-1830 collegit, notis, observationibus et adumbrationibus illustravit: ix-xvi, vii-xvii, i-xxxi, xii-xvii + 243 pp. Lugdunum Batavorum†: A. Arnz.

Fraaye RHB, Bakel BWM van. 1998. New raninid crabs (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura) from the late Maastrichtian of the Netherlands. Geol. Mijnbouw 76: 293-299.

Leonardi G. 1983. Notopus petri nov. gen., nov. sp.: une empreinte díamphibien du Dévonien au Paran (Brésil). Geobios 16: 233-239.

Roek Z, Rage J-C. 1994. The presumed amphibian footprint Notopus petri from the Devonian: a probable starfish trace fossil. Lethaia 27: 241-244.

Serène R, Umali AF. 1972. The family Raninidae and other new and rare species of brachyuran decapods from the Philippines and adjacent regions. Philippine J. Sci. 99 (1970): 21-105.

Tucker AB. 1998. Systematics of the Raninidae (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura), with accounts of three new genera and two new species. Proc. biol. Soc. Wash. 111: 320-371.


For exchange of views on this matter, we thank R.G. Bromley (Geological Institute, Copenhagen), S.K. Donovan (Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden), D.D. Gillette (Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff), G. Leonardi (Monterusciello), M.G. Lockley (University of Colorado, Denver) and A.K. Rindsberg (Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa).