Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/265

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SYSTEMATIC ZOOLOGY

THE PURPOSE AND SOME PRINCIPLES OF SYSTEMATIC ZOOLOGY
By HUBERT LYMAN CLARK
MUSEUM OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

SOME months ago, I had the opportunity of examining at my leisure an unpublished manuscript, dealing with a group of animals with which my own studies have made me familiar. At the same time, I had occasion to consult in connection with my work two publications, by different authors, concerning related, though not identical groups of animals. The contrasts offered by the three writers were so remarkable that numerous questions were raised in my mind, as to the motives that led to the investigations, and the principles that had governed them. So far as I can see, each paper may properly be classed as a contribution to systematic zoology and yet the three are totally unlike. In one of the published papers, the writer is wholly occupied with questions of names. He produces evidence to show that a given name is of earlier date than hitherto supposed, another is preoccupied, another was never properly defined, and still others have been erroneously used. Even though the results are disturbing, the facts brought out are interesting and the methods used are clever, but the questions arose in my mind—Is this zoology? Or is it history? Or what is it?—The other publication was utterly different. The author eschewed books entirely. He gave a series of descriptions of a number of what he designated as new species. The names he had given them were above reproach. The descriptions appeared to be lucid. The measurements seemed to be accurate. The locality from which each species came was given with more or less exactitude. But that was all! Not one species was commented on in any way. Not one was compared with any other. There was no more apparent connection between them than that between the books of a dealer's catalogue. And again the question forced itself on me—Is this zoology?—The manuscript which I examined was strikingly different from either of the published articles and yet it certainly had features in common with each of them. There were frequent references to books and names, there were descriptions of new species, and in neither respect did the writer show greater learning or skill than the authors mentioned. Yet the significance of structures and the interrelationships of the species were so illuminatingly treated that I never felt any doubt that the work was really zoology, or that any zoologist would fail to ac-