[Taxacom] originator of tribal rank

Alec McClay alec.mcclay at shaw.ca
Thu Mar 6 16:27:02 CST 2008

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary entry for 
"tribe" in this sense. Obviously it's been used 
loosely since even before Linnaeus but only the 
last of these entries (Gray 1880) seems to refer 
to it as a formal taxonomic rank. So some time a 
generation or two before 1880 - doesn't narrow it down very much.

5. a. Nat. Hist. A group in the classification of 
plants, animals, etc., usually forming a 
subdivision of an order, and containing a number 
of genera; sometimes used as superior and 
sometimes as inferior to a family; also, loosely, 
any group or series of animals.
1640 PARKINSON (title) Theatrum Botanicum: the 
Theater of Plants..Distributed into sundry 
Classes or Tribes, for the more easie knowledge 
of the many Herbes [etc.]. 1667 MILTON P.L. XI. 
279 O flours..Who now shall reare ye to the Sun, 
or ranke Your Tribes? 1672 GREW Idea Philos. 
Hist. Plants §2 We commonly say, Centaurium Majus 
and Minus, Chelidonium Majus and Minus,..which 
yet are distinct Species, and of very different 
Tribes. 1766 Compl. Farmer s.v. Vegetable, 
Vegetables, according to the analyses made of 
them by chemistry, are distinguishable into two 
grand tribes, the acid and the alkaline. 1774 
GOLDSM. Nat. Hist. (1776) III. 256 This tribe of 
the cat kind with spotted skins and a long tail. 
1832 H. MARTINEAU Life in Wilds v, A tribe of 
birds whose habit is to unite in flocks. 1880 
GRAY Struct. Bot. ix. §1. (ed. 6) 326 Tribe has 
been for a generation or two..established in both 
kingdoms, as a grade inferior to order and superior to genus.

At 11:00 AM 08.03.06, you wrote:
>Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2008 10:38:04 +0100
>From: "Spies, Martin" <spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
>Subject: [Taxacom] originator of tribal rank
>To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>Message-ID: <47CFBB7C.1070608 at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-15; format=flowed
>On behalf of a colleague I am trying to find out who in the history of
>Linnean classification - in zoology or in general - started the use of
>'tribe' as a rank and/or coined the term for that rank.
>Thanks in advance for any help - here or offlist.
>Martin Spies
>c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen

Alec McClay, Ph.D.

McClay Ecoscience
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