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The Problem of Dates of Publication

Nature volume 140, page 499 (18 September 1937) | Download Citation



THE study of natural history has branched into many side-lines ; but it is strange to think how far off the direct line of acquisition of nature knowledge the need for accuracy has led. For the convenience of naturalists the world over, animals and plants bear specific names, and the proper name where several have been given is determined conventionally by priority of christening. But so difficult is it in some cases to determine priority that an extensive literature has developed around these knotty problems, and so insistent is the demand for accuracy that a Society for the Bibliography of Natural History has been formed. The first part of its Journal is a catalogue of papers concerning the dates of publication of natural history books, arranged in alphabetical order of the authors of the books, and this ought to be of great service to systematists. Sometimes it is difficult to see exactly how the alphabetical order has been determined ; "Ent. Soc. Lond." appears under "London", "Ent. Soc. N. S. Wales" under "Ent."; "Royal Phys. Soc. Edinburgh" appears under "Proc.", while the Wernerian Society of the same city appears under "Edinburgh". Doubtless there are sound reasons for this grouping, but they are not obvious, and they are not set out in the very brief introductory notes. The Society maintains a card index of papers concerned with the dates of publication of natural history books, and copies of such papers will be welcomed by the Secretary at 41 Queen's Gate, London, S.W.7.

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