Bill Dowling said:

>In the Handbook of the Birds of the World (Josep del Hoyo et al, editors)
>this bird is listed as the Common Teal, Anas creeca, with subspecies A. c.
>nimia (Aleutian Green-winged Teal) and A. c. carolinensis (Green-winged
>Teal). The editors note that carolinensis is sometimes considered a full

>Sibley and Monroe (1990) show the sames classification and nomenclature.

>So here we have
>Anas creeca being used as the scientific name for the Common Teal and the
>Green-winged Teal by different leading authorities. This doesn't seem right
>to me but let me be the first to say that I am thoroughly uneducated on the
>subject of taxonomy and nomenclature.


I feel your pain. However, bear in mind that even taxonomists and systematists cannot totally agree as to what strictly defines a species. This may be an oversimplification, but the binomial system of classification of living things that we recognize today, was first elaborated by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné or Carolus Linnaeus, in 1735 in his magnum opus, _Systema Naturae_. I am no scientist, but although our knowledge of the biodiversity on the planet has increased exponentially from Linnaeus' time, I would argue that our understanding of the principles related to how these living entities are related (phenetics -- based on similar or shared morphological characteristics) has not. Within the last 50 years or so, a new way of looking at taxonomy has emerged. It is cladistics or evoltionary systematics. The science of cladistics uses evolutionary descent as the sole criterion for classification. In this way it is a systematic program based on phylogeny rather than evolutionary grade or overall similarity.

For a more in depth treatment of the points made in the above paragraph, go to:

where much of my understanding of "what constitutes a species" was taken.


Vince Lucas
Naples, FL
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