Zoological Classification System of a Primitive People

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Science  04 Mar 1966:
Vol. 151, Issue 3714, pp. 1102-1104
DOI: 10.1126/science.151.3714.1102


The Fore people of the New Guinea Highlands classify all animals in one of nine higher categories ("tábe aké"), and these are further subdivided into lower categories ("ámana aké"). There are 182 lower categories for vertebrates alone. The nearly one-to-one correspondence between Fore amana ake and species as recognized by European taxonomists reflects the objective reality of the gaps separating sympatric species. In 90 percent of the cases, when a species of animal unknown to the Fore is presented for naming, it is called by the name of the Fore species considered its closest relative by zoologists. The origin of Fore classification is probably utilitarian.