Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [176] - Discovery [59]: Rachel's Malimbe

2015-10-28 (678)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Rachel's Malimbe Malimbus racheliae

Rachel's Malimbe
Rachel's Malimbe male,
figure from Cassin (1862)
Rachel's Malimbe
Rachel's Malimbe female,
figure from Sjostedt (1895)
Rachel's Malimbe map
Rachel's Malimbe
distribution, type locality circled


The Rachel's Malimbe was formally described by John Cassin, an American ornithologist and curator of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP), now Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Cassin named this species after his daughter, Rachel: "I name the present beautiful bird after my loved and only daughter. Should her pathway in the world be pleasant, may she know also the great gratification that comes from the pursuit of Natural History..."

The Rachel's Malimbe had been collected by Paul Belloni Du Chaillu, a French-American traveler, zoologist, and anthropologist. Du Chaillu was sent in 1855 by the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia on an African expedition. Until 1859, he explored West Africa near the equator, especially the delta of the Ogooue River and the estuary of the Gabon. During his travels from 1856 to 1859, he observed many gorillas. He became famous in the 1860s as the first modern European outsider to confirm the existence of gorillas, and later the Pygmy people of central Africa.

In addition to his zoological work on gorillas, Du Chaillu collected and identified a number of new species to science, including mammals and the type specimens of thirty-nine valid species of African birds.

The first illustration of a male Rachel's Malimbe is by Cassin (1862), a few years after he described the species. The next illustration was a female published by Sjostedt (1895). The nest does not appear to have been illustrated or photographed yet.

Scientific citation

Sycobius racheliae Cassin 1857 Prov. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, p.36 River Muni (Spanish Guinea).

Meaning of names

racheliae - After Rachel Cassin (fl. 1857), daughter of John Cassin, who described this species.

First English name

Rachel's Malimbe (Bannerman 1921), decades after it was first described.

Alternate names



Paul Belloni Du Chaillu.

Date collected


Locality collected

Muni River, Equatorial Guinea.

Type specimens

The type specimens are in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (ANSP 14100, ANSP 14101).