Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [237] - Discovery [120]: Overview 3

2016-12-28 (759)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species list)

Overview - Discovery by author


The formal naming of birds started with Linnaeus (1758) who described 5 weavers in 1758, followed by 4 more in 1766. Linnaeus did not see all the specimens himself - he compiled descriptions based on earlier works. The first 9 weavers to be described are relatively common, widespread species, and a key characteristic is that they occur near the coast and on the trading route of the early ships from the far East to Europe. Read more about the Weavers described by Linnaeus here.

The weavers were described by 49 authors (counting first authors only, where more than one was involved; Table 1). Most weavers were described by Reichenow (n=10), followed by Linnaeus (n=9) and Hartlaub (n=8). Reichenow also co-authored the descriptions of 2 more weavers. Most authors were British (16), followed by German (n=13) and American (n=5).

List of authors that published 2 or more new weaver species (full list in a Biodiversity Observations paper - see below):

Red-billed Quelea type,
figure from Brisson 1760
used by Linnaeus to
name this species

n First author Wikipedia summary
10 Reichenow German ornithologist and herpetologist
9 Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist
8 Hartlaub German physician and ornithologist
7 Sharpe English zoologist
6 Smith Scottish surgeon and naturalist
6 Vieillot French ornithologist
5 Cassin American ornithologist
5 Shelley English geologist and ornithologist
4 Bocage Portuguese zoologist and politician
4 Gmelin German naturalist
4 Ruppell German naturalist and explorer
3 Bonaparte French biologist and ornithologist
3 Cabanis German ornithologist
3 Daudin French zoologist
2 Boddaert Dutch physician and naturalist
2 Chapin American ornithologist
2 Fischer German African explorer
2 Gray English zoologist and author
2 Lichtenstein German physician etc


Smith's type description of the Spectacled Weaver (1828)
This is one of the earliest type descriptions published wholly in English. Most authors used Latin to describe new species.

Portraits of authors that published most new weaver species descriptions (figures from wikipedia):

Anton Reichenow
Carl Linnaeus
Gustav Hartlaub
RB Sharpe

Read more

An extensive overview appears in a Biodiversity Observations paper titled Overview of the discovery of the weavers.