12 February 2008

Interesting fact number 1

I know all the GOS rank-and-file (and committee members) will have already heard and digested the following (for they are masters of all things taxonomic and nomenclatural) but, for those who haven't, there is a wonderful little nugget in the recently published 'Crazy Dutch Birding'. Buried amongst the usual rampant splittery, from the DBA/CSNA, is the news that a paper by David & Gosselin has concluded that the grammatical gender of Poecile is masculine, as a result, all Poecile species and subspecies names ending in '-a' (including our beloved Willow Tit) will, once again, revert to '-us'.

Sooooo, if the BOU follow suit (as they often do) the scientific name in the last few years will have gone Parus montanus > Poecile montanus > Poecile montana > Poecile montanus. How much fun can you have!

May I suggest a way out of this game of tana/tanus tennis? If you go back far enough, there was a spell when Willow Tit was lumped with Black-capped Chickadee; whilst errant nonsense from a taxonomic viewpoint, a swift backward step to this position would instantly remove the need for any more iterations of this appellation oscillation. "Why?!" I hear you cry from the very foremost edge of your seats, well (and this is where the oh-so-interesting fact, alluded to in the title of this missive, comes in), atricapillus is a latin noun with an adjectival suffix making it a 'noun string', as such, it need not follow the gender matching considerations that purely adjectival names do. Therefore, Black-capped Chickadee is impervious to geeks fussing over genders and would provide all Luddites from Cardiff to Monmouth a scrap of respite in an ever changing world. Everyone's a winner with Poecile atricapillus kleinshmidti! Oh,... hold on, that still results in another name change, hmmm,... I haven't thought this through have I.

Note to self: rearrange the words 'life', 'get' and 'a' into a popular phrase.
Note to readership: if you have got this far see note above.

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