12 scientific names

The California condor has not always been called by that name. In the 19th century, the common name assigned to this bird was typically some form of “vulture”.

Perhaps surprisingly, the scientific name for the California condor has also changed – and it has changed more often than the common name. In this post I list and briefly explain 12 of the scientific, latinate names given to the species we now know as the California condor.

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Birds of prey, raptors, vultures, or ???

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.

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