Bloody Taxonomists!

Image EXIF Data

  • Date Taken: 01 Oct 2013, 14:37:11
  • Camera: NIKON D7000
  • Focal Length: 105
  • Aperture: f/8
  • ISO: 360
  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 second

I was reminded earlier today that it was twenty-five years ago that I started my university degree; a whole quarter of a century ago!

Back then, the science of taxonomy was pretty well established and one got the impression that the times of great swathes of change were largely over; needless to say, this impression turned out to be spectacularly wrong!

Around the time I was studying, a selection of weapons-grade brains around the world were really getting the hang of gene-sequencing; this absolutely revolutionised biology as it made it an awful lot easier to discern which organisms were related to which other ones and how closely.

This is all terribly exciting and one of the coolest things in science at the moment; the only snag is that, since I graduated, it sometimes seems as if almost everything I learned in terms of classification is now wrong!

This is rather a long-winded way of getting to the point that the taxonomists have been at it again: the toads here (North America) are no longer Bufo; rather, they are now Anaxyrus. So, the splendid fellow in this image is now Anaxyrus americanus and not Bufo americanus, as previous toads in my blog have been labelled!

Now, I just have to remember to get it right in future (and switch back to Bufo when back at home, where the classification remains the same for the European species)…


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