Last week I took this photo of a
beautiful woodland flower...
|P/C Daniel M. Russell (2022)|
I've always known this particular flower as Dodecatheon hendersonii, aka, a "shooting star" or "mosquito bills."
If memory serves me correctly, this flower typically blooms in mid-February through mid-April. So I went to check this in the CALFLORA website and was surprised to see a little notice in a pink highlight: "No longer an active name."
Really? I know that flowers (and many animals) are under constant revisions as biologists learn more about them, usually with improved molecular genetic testing. But I was surprised to learn that this flower has been recategorized into the Primula family, making its new binomial name Primula hendersonii!
I did the search for this flower in the Jepson Manual (the authoritative source of plant names in California) and learned that the official name change happened in 2007 with the publication of "Transfer of Dodecatheon to Primula (Primulaceae)" by Mast, A. R., & Reveal, J. L., Brittonia, 59(1), 79-82 (2007).
Boy did I feel out of touch!
But it brought up an interesting question of how things change names over time and how we manage to navigate the shifting sands of names in our searches.
Luckily, many (most?) publications will publish the original name as a synonym (or alias) along with the new name.
The real question for us as searchers is suppose you don't know of the name change... how do you search then?
This becomes an issue the farther back you go in time. You might recognize Londinium as an earlier name of London, and you know that Firenze is the Italian name for the city of Florence. You might know that Mark Twain is another name for Samuel L. Clemens (the author), but did he use another other names?
Here are three versions of alt-names that have been used for people, places, and things. Can you figure out a search strategy for each?
1. Speaking of Mark Twain, did he use any other names besides Mark Twain for writing? (If so, what are they?)
2. You know that Istanbul was once known as Constantinople (there's even a song about that!), but what was Saint Petersburg, Russia (that is, the city of Санкт-Петербург) called before its current name?
3. What were projected moving images (what we would now label a "movie") called before 1900?
It shouldn't take you long to answer these Challenges, but I want to learn HOW you found the answers. Did you use a particular resource to get an answer?