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New World Monkey Nightmares: Science, Art, Use, and Abuse (?) in Platyrrhine Taxonomic Nomenclature


Correspondence to: Alfred L. Rosenberger, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY 11210. E-mail:


The taxonomy and nomenclature of New World monkeys is becoming precariously unstable and impractical, plagued by revisions aimed at conforming to approaches that reject the Biological Species Concept for narrowly construed reasons and resulting in a hyperinflated taxonomy at species (often) and genus (sometimes) levels. This undermines a major goal of classification at the most basic taxonomic levels to ease communication and facilitate research. Since it is difficult to justify extensive changes in terminology without a deeply justified theoretical purpose or without showing what scientific benefits these alterations can bring, working primatologists need not accept this doctrinaire trend. Knowing as little as we do about what a species actually is, does not justify contorting the value of a species nomenclature so that it reflects nothing more than coat color, a node, or endpoint of a dendrogram. Am. J. Primatol. 74:692-695, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.