Seeing we're having tropical downpours

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Subject: Seeing we're having tropical downpours
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 14:05:21 +1100
This is only being passed on because I know there are a couple of people out there interested in terminological trivia.  Nowadays we are told there are only two species in the Anhingidae, known respectively, with pleasing brevity, as 'Anhinga' and 'Darter' (the Oriental/Australasian bird).  'Anhinga', we are told, was the Tupi (Brazilian) Indian name for an evil spirit of the woods - sometimes referred to as 'the devil bird'.  "The name was first used as an English substantive name in 1818 for the Afrotropical darter" - ie for our species, not the American one it now applies to.  However, the current official title of the South American sub-species is indeed Anhinga Anhinga anhinga anhinga.
For anyone wondering about the unusually realistic depiction of the above imaginary scene, the left-hand component is from that epic of Amazonian adventure "Exploration Fawcett", the original photograph being labelled  "Brian Fawcett with Comatzi, chief of the Kalapalos", while on the right we have Audubon's representation of the North American sub-species, now Anhinga anhinga leucogaster,  which Audubon called a 'water-turkey'.          
                Geoffrey Dabb
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