Saturday, April 2, 2011

Neivamyrmex sumichrasti, an army ant bearing the name of French naturalist François Sumichrast

The army ant Neivamyrmex sumichrasti was first documented in the 1860s by the French naturalist François Sumichrast, who worked at that time in Mexico. There he observed, collected and documented the ant that would later bear his name [1]. Interestingly, the “Eponym Dictionary of Mammals” lists a Swiss naturalist with the name Adrien Jean Louis François Sumichrast (1828-1882), who is commemorated in the names of species such as Sumichrast's Vesper Rat (Nyctomys sumichrasti), Sumichrast's Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys sumichrasti), Sumichrast's Wren (Hylorchilos sumichrasti) and Sumichrast's Garter Snake (Thamnophis sumichrasti), which all are found between Mexico and Panama [2]. Ants are not mammals and Neivamyrmex sumichrasti cannot be expected to be included in this list. Yet, I am wondering whether all names refer to the same naturalist? Maybe he was French-Swiss and both sources are right? I didn't succeed in finding a clearly linking cross-reference and I am still looking for an eponym dictionary of insects. For now, I am staying with the world of ants:

Keywords: entomology, myrmecology, army ants, Ecitoninae, nomenclature

References and further reading
[1] Rob R. Dunn: Every Living Thing. First Edition. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2009; pages 120 and 121.
[2] Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins and Michael Grayson: The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 2009.
[3] John T. Longino (The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA): Neivamyrmex sumichrasti (Norton 1868)

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