How many California condors are there? It wasn’t that long ago that the number of condors in the world was a mystery that scientists were struggling to solve.
Sketches play an important role in communicating scientific information. This was true before the printing of photographs and high-quality illustrations became common, and it continues to be true.
In this post, I show sketches concerning the California condor from 6 sources. These were published over a span of more than a century.
Consider the skull of the California condor!
A masters or doctoral thesis is evidence of 2 achievements: the further education of the author of the thesis and a new contribution to human understanding.
The California condor has been the subject, or a significant aspect, of a number of graduate theses.
Scientists are classifiers. Scientists identify species and then group species into genera, genera into families, and so on. Both scientific and common names are assigned to these various categories.
But classifications change over time and, even at a single point in time, not all scientists agree about how to classify species.
Here are 3 quick looks at changes in and controversies over the classification of the California condor. These examples all concern common names. The sources considered span 3 centuries.
There is something appealing about a brief scientific article, dense with new and interesting information.
Here I note 5 articles which were so brief that they shared a journal page with at least one other article. Yet they all provide valuable scientific knowledge about the California condor.
Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887) was a distinguished zoologist, educator, and scientific administrator. He served as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1878 until his death.
Baird’s last major publication was A History of North American Birds, 3 volumes that were co-authored with Thomas Brewer and Robert Ridgway. The entry for the California condor is in the last volume and includes this illustration by Edwin L. Sheppard of a condor chick:
“BBR”, as this book is sometimes known (the initials of the authors’ last names), was published in 1874. It is the end of a string of comprehensive works about birds by Baird. In this post I present what appears to be the beginning of that string.