INDEX ANIMALIUM / Charles Davies Sherborn


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Introduction by Charles Davies Sherborn

In a book of reference, the first pages which should be studied are those containing the "corrigenda" (p. lvii), as they represent the sum of the compiler's labours after the main work has passed the press.

The objects of this work are (a) to provide zoologists with a complete list of all the generic and specific names that have been applied by authors to animals since January the first, 1758¹; (b) to give an exact date for each page quotation; (c) to give a quotation for each reference sufficiently exact to be intelligible alike to the specialist and to the layman.

Similar works have been produced before, but no one book has yet appeared attempting to supply references to all names given to both fossil and recent animals, nor has any definite attempt been made to fix an accurate date to each name.

Notices of the details of the scheme have appeared in Nature, 15 May, 1890, p. 54; La Feuille des Jeunes Naturalistes, Nov. 1890, p. 19; Nature, 2 July, 1891, p. 207; Natural Science, iii. 1893, p. 379; Proc. Zool. Soc. 1896, p. 610; Reports Brit. Assoc. from 1892–1902.

Work was commenced on 1 July, 1890. After two years recording, an unfortunate breakdown in health, which has frequently recurred, laid me aside for three years, and thus the actual time spent on the manuscript has amounted to eight years.

In 1892 the British Association first assisted the venture and in 1894 appointed a committee, consisting of Sir William Flower (Chairman), Dr Sclater, Dr H. Woodward, and Mr George Brook (Secretary), to watch the work. The Rev. T. R. R. Stebbing, Mr R. McLachlan, and Mr W. E. Hoyle, were afterwards added to the Committee, and Mr W. L. Sclater became the Secretary on Mr Brook's death. This Committee has remained in force, Dr Woodward succeeding the late Sir William Flower as Chairman, and Dr F. A. Bather succeeding Mr W. L. Sclater as Secretary. The kindness of the members of the Committee has been considerable, and I am much indebted to them for their advice and interest. The British Association has consistently supported the finances, and valuable help has been received in this direction from the Zoological Society and the Royal Society.


In 1897 Dr Sclater suggested to the Committee that, in view of the long time that must elapse before the completion of the whole manuscript, which it was proposed should embrace the period from 1758 to 1900, it would be well if a portion were prepared and published as a specimen of the whole. This suggestion has been acted upon, and there is now offered to the consideration of zoologists that part of the work covering the years 1758–1800 inclusive. During the progress of this earlier portion of the manuscript it became apparent that a great deal of the literature required was not to be found in England, and it is satisfactory to be able to say that, with a few unimportant exceptions, the bulk of the 1300 volumes required have either been seen, or else seen and acquired for some one or other of the libraries accessible to the public. The search for these volumes has been not the least interesting part of my labours. Such as have eluded my search are mentioned in "Libri desiderati": while a complete enumeration of the books consulted has been given in a second list, this seeming to be advisable and useful; and at the same time such notes are given on them as would be of use to those who might wish to consult or purchase them.

The following remarks will be of service to those who use this volume:—

Nomina nuda are distinguished by the letters [n. n.].

Nomina nuda accompanied by figures, by the letters [n. et f.]

In those cases where an author has described and figured a species some time after printing his nomen nudum, a reference is also given to the nomen nudum, when possible.

Species "indett.," if figured, are included in the index.

Misprints are quoted only if considered liable to cause confusion.

The date of publication of a species is taken to be that date on which the print in which the name appears is offered for public sale or public distribution.

No author's copy, or excerpt from any publication distributed privately before such publication was offered for public sale or public distribution has been accepted.

In the case of privately printed books, entries taken from them are distinguished by the words [auct. typ.].


In all cases where the date is doubtful and cannot be definitely ascertained, the date figures are enclosed in brackets [], or have some other distinguishing mark—e.g.,?—placed against them¹.

In the case of plates appearing before the text, the date of each is given if ascertainable (e.g., Schreber's `Säugthiere'), but in no case is the date of a plate accepted in preference to the date of text, for the reasons which follow:—

The figure depicted on a plate may, or may not, be the drawing intended by the author; it is the work of the artist, who is also responsible for the descriptive legend. In numerous instances the descriptive legend on a plate is quite erroneous, and has been repudiated by the author in his text. Until the text descriptive of a plate appears, the names on the plate must be considered as nomina nuda, and it is open to anyone to describe and rename such nomina nuda.

The following are the reasons for arranging the work under species and not under genera, as in the `Index Kewensis':—

1. No synonymy of species is attempted: that depends on the idiosyncrasy of the systematist.

2. Any attempt at specific synonymy would be opposed to progress, as experience shows that vast changes may take place in a single year.

3. An arrangement under species permits of a generic synonymy, for by running the eye down the second column of the printed work, it will be possible to ascertain the various generic names with which a particular species name has been connected.

It is likely that many cases of apparently duplicate entries will turn out to be so in fact, but the entries are given because it is by no means clear from the diagnoses or remarks of the authors that they are treating of a genus or species that has appeared before in literature. It is for the specialist to decide.

All trivial names are entered as if they were masculine, e.g.

nigra will be found under niger

afrum " " afer

abdominale " " abdominalis.

It is obvious that no other arrangement is possible if we wish to preserve the history of a species; but cross-references are given when the feminine and neuter forms of the trivial word vary so much as to obscure it to those, who, like myself, are unfamiliar with the dead languages.

It must be remembered that in every case the date given in the entries refers to the page, so far as the compiler's researches have enabled him to decide it.


The following abbreviations have been commonly used:—

= equal to id. ac (idem ac) the same as v. et. (vide etiam) see also ? query cf. (confer) compare errore in error err. pro (errore pro) error for apud according to auct. (auctorum) of authors auct. typ. (auctoris typis) privately printed ant. om. (antea omnia) first of all olim or antea formerly q. v. sp. which see for species n. n. (nomen nudum) name only n. et f. (nomen et figura) name and figure only me judice in my opinion ascr. (ascriptum) ascribed to genus caelebs genus to which no specific name has been attached nom. fictum (nomen fictum) altogether fictitious name, e.g. Unclesambocrinus, Botheratiotherium

There now remains the pleasing duty of thanking those who have so cordially given me their advice or assistance, and thus helped to bring the first part of my work to a successful termination. Among them are the late Sir William Flower, Dr Günther, Dr Sclater and Dr Henry Woodward, the latter of whom provided the space and the cabinets in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) and so ensured the safety of the manuscripts against fire and other damage (which privileges have been continued by Dr A. Smith Woodward, his successor); the Hof-naturalien Kabinet of Vienna, Dr Eduard Suess, and Dr Steindachner; Dr F. A. Jentink, of Leyden; Akademiker F. Schmidt, of St Petersburg; the Stadt-Bibliothek of Zürich, Dr Eschner, and Professor Renevier; the Hon. Walter Rothschild and Mr Hartert; Sir Edmund Loder; Mr Du Cane Godman and the late Mr Osbert Salvin; Lord Walsingham and Mr J. H. Durrant; Professor and Madame Amalitzky, of Warsaw; Professor Anton Fritsch and Dr Jan Perner, of Prague; Professor Newton; Mr W. E. de Winton; Mr Gerrit S. Miller, of Washington; Mr A. C. Seward, of Cambridge; Professor H. A. Miers, of Oxford; Dr Philippe Dautzenberg, of Paris; M. Henri Gadeau de Kerville; Dr Rudolph Burckhardt, of Basle; Dr J. C. Reeve of Dayton; Miss E. R. and Miss A. S. Cutter, of Cleveland; Dr C. W. Stiles; Mr F. H. Waterhouse; Dr J. S. Palmer; Mr A. W. Kappel; Mr W. Rupert Jones; Rev. Canon Norman; Mr L. B. Prout; Dr C. W. Richmond; Mr John Locke, of Barbados; Professor J. Perez, of Bordeaux; Mr Justen and Mr F. A. Justen; Mr A. E. Shipley; and many others to whom I am indebted for help and assistance.


I would also thank especially Mr B. B. Woodward, Prof. Jeffrey Bell, Mr Gahan, Mr Kirby, Mr Pocock, Mr Crick, and all other friends at the British Museum (Natural History); and Mr W. R. Wilson of the British Museum, and the Reading Room Staff in general, to whose courtesy many are so constantly indebted.

My thanks are also due to my sister who has undertaken the weary task of comparing all the numerals with the manuscript.

Finally I would like to say that with the exception of some fifty entries kindly made for me by my friend Dr Bather in Stockholm, and by Prof. Perez in Bordeaux, every entry has been recorded from the original, arranged, sorted, checked, and passed for press by myself. I therefore beg the indulgence of those who use this book for any error of commission or omission that may be found. And I may add that a note of any such error will be especially valuable for inclusion in the second part of my "Index Animalium."

1 October 1902.

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