Butterfly systematists

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Tue Jun 8 18:51:22 EDT 1999

My crack about the number of butterfly systematists was made from the 
ornithologic perspective.  For years we have taught that the number of 
systematists is inversely related to the number of problems. Hence I 
share Doug's chuckle.  Was it one of the  Huxleys who when asked what he 
could guess about the personality of the Creator replied "an inordinate 
fondness for beetles"---but not apparently for beetle systematists. 

Anyway, there are probably 10x as many bird systematists as butterfly 
systematists. That's merely a guess of course. 

Maybe the excess of systematists is merely grounds for taxonomic 
mischief. And remember there are biomedical researchers who don't know 
that the Mouse (i.e. the laboratory white mouse) is not the same as our 
various wild mice (Microtus, Peromyscus).  We submitted a paper on 
Peromyscus to a medical journal and had an editor question the results 
because they didn't agree with what "everybody already knows" about 

Mike Gochfeld

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