The Naming Controversy – Ornithology


I earlier mentioned the proposal by the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU) to alter the frequent names of birds named after individuals. Let me add just a little extra right here. Will this result in a change in scientific names as effectively?

Thick-billed Longspur, as soon as referred to as McCown’s Longspur

The AOU modified McCown’s Longspur to the Thick-billed Longspur due to McCown’s help of slavery as a Accomplice common however the scientific title Rhynchophanes mccownii nonetheless consists of his title. Isn’t that also honoring him? There are different American birds that pose this identical challenge corresponding to. Myadestes townsendii for the Townsend’s Solitaire. There are a lot of extra within the U.S. and worldwide. Do you know that the genus Attila was named after Attila the Hun? How about Cacicus montezuma, after the Aztec ruler? Or Calamotropha dagamae, named after Vasco de Gama, Portuguese explorer and colonizer? And a very odd one, the Pygmy batis, Batis perkeo, named after a well-known German dwarf? Are these offensive? If we begin altering frequent names as a result of they’re offensive or don’t add to the outline of the hen, the subsequent logical step is to alter scientific names as a result of scientific names have the identical drawback. It makes little sense to use these standards to frequent names and ignore scientific names with the identical challenge.

Why go away the scientific names of Baird’s Sandpiper and Baird’s Sparrow.as Calidris bairdii and Centronyx bairdii if Baird is faraway from the frequent title? Calidris, from the Greek, refers to a gray-colored waterbird first talked about by Aristotle. Centronyx means “spur claw.” The genus names are descriptive, however the species title will not be. Ought to bairdii be modified? Ought to we even delete Baird’s title? Was Baird a foul man? Not that I can inform from  his biography on Wikipedia. He was really a reasonably spectacular biologist, environmentalist, and, amongst many different accomplishments the primary curator on the Smithsonian Establishment and a founding member of the American Ornithologist’s Union. He appears to be an ideal instance of somebody after whom a hen must be named. Eradicating his title can be slightly insulting, I feel. And what about William Cooper (Cooper’s Hawk, Accipter cooperii) one of many founders of the American Museum of Pure Historical past in New York Metropolis and who first described the Night Grosbeak? And plenty of others. I feel it might be a disgrace to rid hen names of people that mirror the historical past of ornithology, even when their private historical past may be odious by as we speak’s requirements.

Altering scientific names, due to the voluminous guidelines established in by the 306-page code guide of Worldwide Fee Zoological Nomenclature (IUCN), can be a terrific mess. For the reason that ICZN is utilized by the worldwide scientific group, native adjustments, that’s, people who may be proposed by the U.S., is not going to be acknowledged.

The Audubon Society opted to not change its title, not due to John James Audubon’s historical past however due to the society’s historical past. The Audubon title is synonymous with hen safety; altering it might solely weaken that popularity. Altering hen names ignores ornithological historical past. Like the continuing controversy surrounding textbooks, if historical past is disagreeable, ought to we ignore it?

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