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Wikispecies

The free species directory that anyone can edit.

It covers Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and all other forms of life.

So far we have 676,358 articles

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A collaboration between Wikispecies and ZooKeys has been announced. PhytoKeys also joined the collaboration in November 2010. Images of species from ZooKeys and PhytoKeys will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and used in Wikispecies.



Distinguished author

Georges cuvier narrow.png

Georges Cuvier
1769–1832. Standard IPNI form: Cuvier

Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (most often published simply as "Georges Cuvier") was a French naturalist and zoologist. He is sometimes referred to as the founding father of paleontology. Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. Cuvier's work is considered the foundation of vertebrate paleontology, and he expanded Linnaean taxonomy by grouping classes into phyla and incorporating both fossils and living species into the classification. Cuvier is also known for establishing extinction as a fact: at the time, extinction was considered by many of Cuvier's contemporaries to be merely controversial speculation.

He is also remembered for strongly opposing theories of evolution, which at the time (before Darwin's theory) were mainly proposed by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Cuvier believed there was no evidence for evolution, but rather evidence for cyclical creations and destructions of life forms by global extinction events such as deluges (outburst flooding).

Cuvier wrote hundreds of scientific papers and books. His most famous work is Le Règne Animal (1816–1817, four tomes; English title The Animal Kingdom). It sets out to describe the natural structure of the whole of the animal kingdom based on comparative anatomy, and its natural history. Cuvier divided the animals into four embranchements ("Branches", roughly corresponding to phyla), namely vertebrates, molluscs, articulated animals (arthropods and annelids), and zoophytes (cnidaria and other phyla).

He is the author of thousands of new taxa, among them well over 5,000 species of fish and molluscs. In 1800 and working only from a drawing, Cuvier was the first to correctly identify in print, a fossil found in Bavaria as a small flying reptile, which he named the Ptero-Dactyle in 1809 (later Latinized as Pterodactylus antiquus).

When the French Academy was preparing its first dictionary, it defined "crab" as "A small red fish which walks backwards." This definition was sent with a number of others to the naturalist Cuvier for his approval. The scientist wrote back: "Your definition, gentlemen, would be perfect, only for three exceptions. The crab is not a fish, it is not red, and it does not walk backwards." In 1819, he was created a peer for life in honour of his scientific contributions and is thereafter known as Baron Cuvier.

See also: Distinguished authors of previous months.

Species of the month

Bell Heather

Erica cinerea

Erica cinerea L., Sp. pl. 1:352. 1753

Some facts about this species of plant:

Description: Bell Heather is a low, spreading shrub growing 15–60 cm tall, with fine needle-like 4–8 mm long leaves arranged in whorls of three. It is grown as an ornamental plant and as a source of heather honey.
Distribution: It is native to the west of Europe, where it is most abundant in Britain and Ireland, France, northern Spain and southern Norway. It also occurs in the Faroe Islands, Belgium, Germany, north-western Italy, and the Netherlands. It mostly occurs on moors and heathland with relatively dry, acidic, nutrient poor soils. It occurs in coastal dune heath and dune slack and occasionally in woodland.
Protection status: Least concern.
Etymology: The Latin specific epithet cinerea means "ash coloured".

Endangered species of the month

Chinese Camp Brodiaea

Brodiaea pallida

Brodiaea pallida Hoover, Leafl. W. Bot. 2(8): 129–130. 1938.

Some facts about this species:

Description: Brodiaea pallida is a perennial producing an inflorescence up to about 20 centimeters tall bearing pale purple flowers on short pedicels. Flowering occurs in late May and early June.

Habitat: The plants grow in inland wetlands, intermittent streams, overflow channels, and springs with rainfall dependent hydrology.

Distribution: This species is endemic to the United States of America, known only from three localities in the Sierra Nevada foothills, California.

Threats: This species is mainly threatened by construction and urban development. Another possible threat is the combination of invasive species with deposition of nitrogen from air pollution. At least two of the three known localities of this species contain non-native plants, which can became highly invasive due to the increase of nitrogen in the area, reducing the suitable areas for this native plant and its pollinators. Another possible threat is the hybridization with Brodiaea elegans.

Surviving number: The number of individuals was never counted for the entire species, but it is estimated that it varies between 7,500 and 24,500.

Conservation status: Endangered (IUCN 3.1), assessed September 28, 2016. Its extent of occurrence has been estimated as 60 km2, falling within the IUCN "Critically Endangered" threshold, but since it is known from three locations it is instead assessed as "Endangered".

First described: 1938 by the U.S. botanist Robert Francis Hoover in Leaflets of Western Botany 2(8): 129–130.

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