02 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Taxonomy as Colonial Imperialism

Coleridge pointed to this difference between an organising taxonomy and a dynamic scientific principle or law in essays in The Friend (1819). The psychology of collecting, ordering and naming specimens could also be seen as a form of mental colonising and empire-building. ‘Taxonomy after all, is a form of imperialism. During the nineteenth century, when British naval surveys were flooding London with specimens to be classified, inserting them in their proper niches in the Linnaean hierarchy...
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British scientists renaming species that were already named by the native inhabitants of the colonies as a form of oppression.

20 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Taxonomies are Not Arbitrary, but Factual

Mayr lived exactly 100 years, producing a stream of books and papers up to the day of his death. Among these was his 1963 classic, Animal Species and Evolution, the very book that made me want to study evolution. In it Mayr recounted a striking fact. When he totaled up the names that the natives of New Guinea’s Arfak Mountains applied to local birds, he found that they recognized 136 different types. Western zoologists, using traditional methods of taxonomy, recognized 137 species. In other...
Folksonomies: species taxonomy
Folksonomies: species taxonomy
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Example of the natives of an island having nearly the same number of classifications of birds as the taxonomists who studies the species.

19 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 The Unimaginative Naming of an Ancestor

Raymond Dart, then, gave the name Australopithecus to the Taung Child, the type specimen of the genus, and we have been stuck with this depressingly unimaginative name for our ancestor ever since. It simply means 'southern ape'. Nothing to do with Australia, which just means 'southern country'. You'd think Dart might have thought of a more imaginative name for such an important genus. He might even have guessed that other members of the genus would later be discovered north of the equator. S...
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The name for Australopithecus is non-descriptive and unfortunate.