Whats in a name

Subject: Whats in a name
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 19:41:28 +1000
On Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 12:46:06PM +1000, michael hunter wrote:
> Jabiru is a Portugese name for stork, and given to a South American
> species, but only pedantry can excuse not using the name in Australia and
> Asia, where the species do not overlap).

You wouldn't make it as a pedant Michael even if you wanted.  Jabiru
isn't Portugese, its said to be a Tupi-Guarani bird name.  Jacana has a
similar origin. I was curious about the path to English so I googled.
It looks like the word Jabiru might have been conveyed to Europe by a
German, Georg Markgraf, who worked for 5 years in the Dutch colony in
NE Brazil and was one of the first Europeans to systematically describe
south american fauna.  His 1648 Historia Naturalis Brasiliae is online at:
You can even see the transposed figures on pages 200 & 201 (Jabiru &
Jabiru guacu) which confused Linneaus.

At least some phylogenetic work has Jabiru mycteria as the closest
relative to the two Ephippiorhynchus species (Black-necked & Saddle-Billed
Storks) - as I read it they could be put in the same genus.  We could
move to American Jabiru, Australasian Jabiru and Saddle-Billed Jabiru
and be monophyletic.

I don't know about Philip's stirring of the possum.  (O)possum is an
Algonquin word and the nominal species is only distantly related to
its Australian namesakes.  As I understand marsupial phylogeny,
Australian possums are thought to be more closely related to most,
probably all, other Australian marsupials than they are to any American
marsupial.  A push for a name change maybe quixotic.


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