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The Generic Name of the Tinamous Formerly Included in the Genus Crypturus Illiger

Peters, J.L. 1929.
The generic name of the tinamous formerly included in the genus Crypturus Illiger. Proceedings of the New England Zoological Club, 10: 113-114.

In the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Eighth Series, volume 14, 1914, pp. 319–322, Lord Brabourne and Mr. Charles Chubb published a key to the then-recognized species and subspecies of the genus Crypturus, at the same time removing Tinamus tataupa Temm., and Crypturus parvirostris Wagl. from Crypturus, where they were currently placed, creating for them a new genus Crypturellus (op. cit., p. 322), designating the former species as the type. In 1917 Chubb proposed (Bull. B.O.C., 38: 30) Microcrypturus as a substitute name for Crypturellus, which, to use his own expression, was “unfortunately preoccupied”, but he gave no details.

As a matter of fact, the name that Chubb thought preoccupied Crypturellus was Crypturella, a name proposed by Silvestri in Escherich’s ‘Termitenleben auf Ceylon’, 1910, p. 243, (type by monotypy, Crypturella termitaria Silv.) for a thysanurous insect. Under the International Code these are different names, so Crypturellus stands and Microcrypturus falls as its direct synonym.

The next development came in 1922, when Oberholser (Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, 35: 73–74) showed Crypturus Illiger to be a synonym of Tinamus Latham, ard in the absence of any apparently available synonym to replace Crypturus, (Microcrypturus being regarded as generically different), proposed the name Crypturornis (p. 74), with Tetrao cinereus Gmelin as the type.

There seems to have been a rather natural reluctance on the part of ornithologists to give up Illiger’s name that had stood unchallenged for over a hundred years, but if we ever are to establish nomenclature on a firm basis, we must all subordinate our preference for “pet names” and subscribe to changes that are shown to be necessary when based on correct premises. There is no doubt that Oberholser is correct in the case just stated, and that Crypturus must become a synonym of Tinamus.

And now comes Ernest Holt, who, in his carefully prepared paper on the birds of the Serra do Itatiaya, Brazil, (Bull. American Mus. Nat. Hist., 57: 1928, pp. 251–326), shows (p. 278, note 2) that there are no trenchant characters separating Crypturornis on the one hand and Crypturellus on the other, and that tataupa and parvirostris are really congeneric with the species included by Oberholser in Crypturornis.

Since Crypturellus is not preoccupied by Crypturella, and since the former has been shown to be congeneric with Crypturornis and has nearly 8 yr priority, it must replace that name, and the tinamous formerly placed in the genus Crypturus Illiger must now be grouped under the genus Crypturellus Brabourne and Chubb.

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