When scientists describe a new animal species, they give it a name, according to rules of the ICZN, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Species names can honor a person or the place where the animal lives, or reflect the personality of the describer, as in the case of the beetle Gelae donut (Miller and Wheeler 2004). Emmet Reid Dunn (1894-1956), who earned his PhD at Harvard under Thomas Barbour, expressed his sense of humor when naming salamanders. Dunn’s 1921 dissertation on the Plethodontidae was expanded and published in 1926 as The Salamanders of the Family Plethodontidae. Of the eight Oedipus salamanders that Dunn described there, two stand out: Oedipus rex and Oedipus complex.
Because names change as scientific knowledge advances, both of these names have been revised into ordinariness. In 1944, E.H. Taylor reassigned the species within the genus Oedipus to eight separate genera, including Oedipina (Keferstein 1868) and the new genus Pseudoeurycea.
Below are references for the type descriptions, the Taylor 1944 and the Encyclopedia of Life entries for both. The new names are more accurate, but not as clever!
Oedipus rex, sp.nov. described by E.R. Dunn in 1921.
Common name, Royal False Brook Salamander.
E.R. Dunn, “Two new Central American salamanders”, Proceedings of the Biology Society of Washington vol. 34, pg. 143-146 (1921)
E.H. Taylor, “The genera of Plethodont Salamanders in Mexico, Pt. 1.”, Univ. of Kansas Science Bulletin vol. 30, pg. 189-232 (1944).
Oedipus complex, sp.nov. described by E.R. Dunn in 1924.
Common name, Gamboa worm salamander.
E.R. Dunn, “New Amphibians from Panama”, Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History vol. 5, pg 93-95 (1924).