Primate family (The corect name)

Albertine C. Ellis-Adam a433alb at HORUS.SARA.NL
Fri Aug 25 17:45:52 CDT 1995

>        I would like to know an explanation concerning the formation of
>the family name of the genus Callithrix (a platyrrhine monkey).
>Callithrix seems to me the correct name Callithricidae, but most authors
>use Callithrichidae. I see no reason to add the suffix "chidae" once
>"thrix" is derived from greek "trichos". The word is "thrix" and the
>termination is "tricidae" is not it?
>        Please send me you opinion.
>                                Regards,
>                                        Ronaldo Alperin

The ancient Greek word for a hair is thrix (nominative, singular). The t is
softened by the h, a phenomenon called aspiration; the x at the end is
hard. In a syllabe only a single aspiration is allowed. The genitive
singular of thrix is trichos: the aspiration has shifted to the x, so the t
has lost it. (I cannot explain why, I am a botanist, not a linguist; this
is what I remember from school)
The names of higher taxa are derived from the root of a word (which is
obtained by cutting of the ending of the genitive from, in this case
trichos ->trich) followed by the appropriate suffix, -idae for family.
Result Callitrichidae, which by the way means with beautiful hairs, not
Similarly the filamentous green alga Ulothrix belongs to the Order Ulotrichales.
I hope that I have been helpful, Albertine

 *  Albertine C. Ellis - Adam                           *
 o  University of Amsterdam                             o
 *  Hugo de Vries Laboratorium (Dept of SpecialBotany)  *
 o  Kruislaan 318 / 1098 SM Amsterdam                   o
 *  Tel.: xx 20 5257822 / Fax:  xx 20 5257662           *

More information about the Taxacom mailing list