Talk:Francis Walker (entomologist)

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Insecta Britannica Diptera

Francis Walker's Insecta Britannica Diptera is a masterwork of entomology because of Haliday's contribution- the Synonyma and the Synopsis of families.This is not to undervalue Walker who compiled and organised it and, no doubt wrote unaided many parts especially the descrptions of species, and without error transcribed Haliday's messily altered manuscripts with uncertainly attached marginal notes.

The work, which is in three volumes, begins with a characteristic Haliday logic, a description of the order in Latin.

Os suctorium, probiscide, setis inclusis, palpisque. Alae binae; halteres bine pone alas. Tarsi pentameri.

This is followed by a Synonyma *for the Order

Typically, and most unusually for the date, the synonyms, which differ in kind, are explained. Such completeness is seldom evident even today and demonstrates as much as any other part of Haliday's work his grasp of fundamental principle. There were few such. In Diptera, Zetterstedt perhaps comes closest in this most important arena as Haliday recognized.

"Zetterstedt is not one of the writers who are content to make a parade of erudition, by transcribing synonyms one after the other, without the pains of critical discrimination. The authorities he cites have evidently been collated with scrupulous care, while he has not thought it necessary, in general, to go back to the older authorities, with the exception of Linnaeus, Fabricius and Degeer. But he has not had access to all the recent sources, especially those of the English literature, so that some portions of his matter will turn out to have been anticipated. The admirable BRITISH ENTOMOLOGY of Curtis, is not once referred to, and thus, among other things, the geunus Dolichopeza is attributed, without remark, to Meigen who had ommitted to cite from Curtis the original author. Hence also the representatives of other modern genera, in the Swedish fauna lie disguied under alias names- Diadocidia ferruginosa as Sciara testacea- Catocha under Lestremia- Corynoneura among the Chironomi of Zetterstedt. Having inserted, for completeness sake, the descriptions from other pens of some species, the originals of which he had not an oppurtunity of collating, he has, consequently, been led, in one or two instances, to give the same insect twice over; thus the genus Cordyla appears among the Rhyphii, and again, as Pachypalpus (Macquart), among the Mycetophilinae, and Ditomyia annulata is twice described as Ceroplatus flavus and as Mycetobia annulata. He has not constantly regarded the strict law of priority to which we have been accustomed to defer, in the application of generic and trivial names. Fallen and Fabricius seem to weigh with him sometimes more than age or usage, and rules are made to yield to predilection."

Zetterstedt was seventy and had most likely decided to abandon perfection so as to enable him to proceed with "a like history of the Hemiptera which we are authorized to expect from his hand". Here we have to choose between quantity (Zetterstedt) and quality (Haliday). The same is true of other prolific authors. Haliday's obsessive perfectionism delayed many of his works and no doubt eliminated others planned but on the other hand his expert and very complete synonymies progressed the science of taxonomic entomology. Names accepted or rejected by Haliday could be taken as definitive. The price he paid was less recognition as a major author in later years, though it gave him preeminence in his day. The same is true of later nomenclatorists today, though not amongst their contemporaries.

A technical matter

The Synonyma is very technical but it is partially given here to illustrate the clarity and logical nature of Haliday's procedure as well as the huge knowledge to which it was applied. None of the books listed which are in several languages are easy reading.

  • The synonyms are arranged in the following gradations:-

1, homonymous [Line]1 1. Equivalent 2, synonymous[Line] 2 1, in two members[Line] 3-6 2. Collective 2, in three members Line]7-10

3. Supplementary An entire group and part of another co-ordinate [Line]11-17

4. Indefinite Portions only of groups [Line]18,19

5. Ancient, before the distinct gradations of groups were observed [Line]20-22

Insect Britannica -"This, that and the other thing"- Synonyms for the Order Diptera

Line 1. Oken, 1821.--Burmeister; Strauss Durkheim; Erichson; Siebold. Haliday is explaining here that his use of the name Diptera is precisely equivalent to that of the authors listed.

Line 2. Antliata: Schioedte, 1841. Here Haliday is stating that his use of the name Diptera is for an identical systematic group which Shiodte named Antliata

Line 3. Diptera et Suctoria: Degeer, 1778; Latreille, 1797; Savigny; Dugès. Here Haliday is saying that his systematic group named Diptera includes the Suctoria, or fleas, a group separated from the Diptera under the name Suctoria by Degeer, Latreille, Savigny and Dugès.

Line 4. Diptera et Aptera : M'Leay, 1821. McLeay, unlike Haliday, considered the fleas a separate order for which he used Linnaeus name Aptera

Line 5. Diptera et Siphonaptera: Latreille, 1825 Modern authors, unlike Haliday, consider the fleas a separate order from the Diptera, using Latreille's name Siphonaptera for them.

Line 6. Diptera et Aphaniptera : Kirby, 1826; Westwood Westwood called the fleas Aphaniptera as do some modern authors.

From 7-10 Three order level groups not two, are included in Haliday's single order Diptera.

Line 7. Diptera, Omaloptera et Aptera : Leach, 1819. A third group is introduced- the Omaloptera.These perplexing insects, in which the young are born in a stage like the pupa, are really Diptera as Haliday thought. According to Leach Omaloptera, Aptera and Diptera are separate orders.

Line 8. Diptera, Pupipara et Suctoria: Latr., 1821 Latreille called the insects Leach had called Omaloptera, Pupipara. He called the fleas Suctoria. Latreille thought all three were separate orders.

Line 9. Diptera, Homaloptera et Aphaniptera : Stephens, 1821 Curtis. Here called Homaloptera , Diptera and Aphaniptera are treated as three separate orders.

Line 10. Diptera, Omaloptera et Pulicarii : Rondani, 1841 In this work Rondani reverted to the spelling Omaloptera and called the fleas Pulicarii.

In the next group of synynoyms (11-17) Haliday merges "an entire group and part of another co-ordinate" . From here on the situation becomes complicated and more detail than Haliday gives is necessary for complete understanding.

Line 11. Diptera et Aptera p.: Linnaeus, 1753; Geoffroy; Müller; Olivier: p means part, ie. only part of the Aptera are included.

Line 12. [continuation of 11] Cuvier; Dumeril; (Meigen; Fallen; Zetterstedt)The entire group here is Diptera only the Aphaniptera , or fleas are included here by Haliday although this is not stated.

Line 13. Halterata et Pedestria p.: Scopoli, 17 The Halterata are a whole group within the Diptera. Only part of the Pedestria which are, partially, also Diptera.

Line 14. Muscoides et Oniscoides p. : Laicharting, 1781: These names are seldom found, the work is obscure.

Line 15. Halteriptera et Rophoteira p. : Claireville, 1798: Again the names are obscure and the purpose of their inclusion is to eliminate them.

Line 16. Diptera et Antennidia p. : Rafinesque, 1815 Rafinesque considered the Antennidia a separate and equivalent group to the Diptera. Here Haliday is merging the two.

Line 17. Aptera et Diptera p.: Lamarck. Lamarck's Diptera included insect groups other than Diptera.

Line 18. Angioptera p. : Linnaeus, 1735: Haliday was uncertain as to exactly what Linnaeus, writing in 1735 had meant by Angioptera, hence the term "Indefinite". Linnaeus initially divided the insects into four orders: Coleoptera, Angioptera, Hemiptera, and Aptera. Diptera were only part of the order Angioptera.

Line 19. Antliata p. et Ryngota p. Fabricius, 1775; Illiger etc.: Haliday is rendering these groups redundant.

Ancient synonyms

And for completeness Haliday includes "Ancient, before the distinct gradations of groups were observed" These names go back to antiquity. Aristotle lived from 384-322 BC, Pliny from 23-79 AD. Martin Lister was a much later figure (1775-1858).

Line 20. Diptera et Aptera p.: Aristoteles.

Line 21. Bipennia et Impennia p.: Plinius

Line 22. Anelytra Bipennia , &c.: Lister

The divisions of Diptera

Synonyma is followed by a description of the order Diptera in note form, then in a short explanatory essay. Both the description and the essay are in English. Then, using antennal placement (lying flat in cavities on side of head as opposed to seated in front of the head) the Diptera are divided into the SUCTORIDEA and , together, the PROBOSCIDEA and EPROBOSCIDEA. This divides the fleas, now separated as an Order, Siphonaptera from the Diptera as now construed.

The Proboscidea and Eproboscidea are divided by leg placement (on the thorax): close side by side in the Proboscidea, distant in the Eproboscidea.

A synonyma for the Suctoridea (fleas) follows, then brief notes, in Latin, on the features of the order.

Next a synonyma for the Proboscidea is followed by brief notes, in Latin, then more fully in English.

The Proboscidea are then divided into 1. Nemocera and 2. and 3. together, the Brachycera- Antennae - with distinct joints, at least 6, (usually more than10) and Hypocera- Antennae- with 3 to ten joints; after the third closely united, or abruptly slighter.

The Brachycera and Hypocera are then divided using differences in wing venation.

Brachycera "Posterior veins of the wing branched or interlaced, more or less".

Hypocera "Posterior veins of the wing simple, detached and very faint".


Nemocera ( attributed to Latr. [Latreille] ; Macq. [Macquart] ; &c ) are briefly described in Latin, with additions to previous diagnoses.

Brachycera ( attributed to Macq. are briefly described in Latin, then, more in essay form, in English

Hypocera (attributed to Macq. [Macquart] = Trineurae Latr. [Latreille] are briefly described in Latin

Eproboscidea (unattributed - but Latreille, 1089) a synonyma then the taxon is briefly described in Latin, with additions to previous diagnoses.

The name Brachycera, dipterists should note is used in a far less restricted way than it is today. For those interested in such matters a fascinating website "Nomina Circumscribentia Insectorum - Catalogue of Circumscriptional names of arthropod taxa compiled by Nikita Julievitch Kluge is an invaluable aid- NotaflyCont.htm