News & AnalysisORNITHOLOGY

Feathers Are Flying Over Colombian Bird Name Flap

Science  04 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6021, pp. 1123-1124
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6021.1123

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Summary

Last May, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its partner in Colombia, Fundación ProAves, announced the discovery of a new species of Neotropical bird. ABC touted the feat as "remarkable" for being one of the first times a new species had been scientifically described from an individual captured, measured, photographed, and then released. For George Fenwick, head of ABC, it was a proud moment: The bird, Fenwick's antpitta (Grallaria fenwickorum), was named in honor of his family. But the announcement made no mention of the bird's actual discoverer, a former employee of ProAves named Diego Carantón, and the two preserved specimens he had already collected. How Carantón, his specimens, and the name he had chosen—Grallaria urraoensis—came to be omitted from the taxonomic record is generating bitter debate between Colombia's leading university ornithologists and ProAves, the country's best-known private conservation organization, over scientific standards and credit for new discoveries.