Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [172] - Discovery [55]: Principe Golden Weaver

2015-09-30 (671)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Principe Golden Weaver Ploceus princeps

Principe Golden Weaver
Principe Golden Weaver,
figure from Shelley 1905
Principe Golden Weaver
Principe Golden Weaver,
figure from Bannerman 1949
Principe Golden Weaver map
Principe Golden Weaver
distribution, type locality circled


The Principe Golden Weaver was formally described by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a French biologist and ornithologist. He described many new birds. Around 1849 Bonaparte began work on preparing a classification of all the birds in the world, visiting museums across Europe to study the collections. In 1850, he published the first volume of his Conspectus Generum Avium which included 3 weavers. Bonaparte studied the type specimen of the Principe Golden Weaver in the Paris Museum, noting the locality as Principe Island. Bonaparte probably named the weaver after the island, rather than after the Latin word for "principal" as was suggested by Jobling (1991).

The Principe Golden Weaver was collected by Carl Weiss, a German doctor and collector working for the Museum of Hamburg. Weiss arrived on Sao Tome in 1847, where he collected the type of the Sao Tome Weaver. He travelled from Sao Tome to the coast of Ghana, to Principe and back to Sao Tome again. He would have collected the Principe Golden Weaver between 1847-1850. The specimen was probably sent to Hamburg Museum first, but was presumably sold to the Paris Museum.

The first illustration of a Principe Golden Weaver is by Shelley (1905), several decades after it was first discovered. The next illustration was of a male and female, but not in colour, published by Bannerman (1949). Reichenbach (1863) mentioned the species, and provided an English name, but did not illustrate it.

Scientific citation

Symplectes princeps Bonaparte 1851a Consp. Gen. Av., 1(1850), p.439 Principe Island.

Meaning of names

princeps - Latin: princeps, chief, leader, most distinguished (Jobling 1991).

However, it is more likely that the weaver was named after the island, rather than the general Latin name. Principe Island (Prince's island) was named in honor of Afonso, Prince of Portugal, by the early Portuguese visitors (see wikipedia).

First English name

The Hyphantorne Prince (Reichenbach 1863).

Alternate names

Principe Island Golden Weaver, Principe Weaver.


Carl Weiss.

Date collected

Between 1847-1850.

Locality collected

Insulis Princip = Principe Island.

Type specimens

The type specimen is probably in the Paris Museum.