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CLASSIFICATION BY BA KIWANUKA
Species: WESTERN GORILLA | EASTERN GORILLA
Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli)
Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)
Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
Bwindi Gorilla (Gorilla beringei ?)*
Scientific classification of living organisms is known as Linnaean
Taxonomy, named for the person who developed it, Carolus Linnaeus.
This form of classification designates living organisms into a
descending hierarchical structure, starting with kingdoms at the
top. It should however be noted that many modern biologists consider
Domains to be a classification above Kingdoms. As seen from the
outline above, Kingdoms are divided into phylum (phyla is the plural
form) which in turn are broken down into subphyla, then into classes
and so on and so forth.
Basic concept on how species are named.
species' name is binomial (two words in the name). The first word is
the generic name and always starts with a Capital letter. The second
word is the specific name and always begins with a small letter. If
there's a third word in the name this refers to the sub-species of
that particular species. So for example Gorilla beringei graueri ,
Gorilla refers to the genus, beringei refers to the species and
graueri refers to the sub-species.
THE LONG WINDING ROAD TO MODERN DAY GORILLA CLASSIFICATION
Gorillas were originally designated the scientific name
Troglodytes gorilla by Thomas Savage in 1847. However the
genus Troglodytes had already been described for the chimpanzee. And
the plot thickens yet; fifty or so years later someone made the
astute observation that the genus Troglodytes couldn't properly
belong to the chimpanzee because prior to being ascribed to the
chimpanzee, it had actually been allocated to a bird. The wren!
Evidently taxonomy back then was not an exact science. It was not
uncommon for species to be named on the basis of a whim. In the case
of gorilla classification, quite often the individual who published
the description was ignorant (or at best had a very vague idea) of
the geography of Africa, never mind accurately pin-pointing the
place-of-origin of a specimen.
1852 the gorilla was eventually designated the genus Gorilla by
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. After that the process of gorilla
taxonomy hummed along more smoothly. That said, it should be pointed
out that even today there're still some issues of contention; though
most experts recognize two species with corresponding two
sub-species apiece, there still some who contend that there is only
one true gorilla species and four subspecies.
Gorilla gorilla = Western Species | Gorilla beringei = Eastern
The question mark reflects the current contention on whether this is
a true subspecies or merely a mountain gorilla variation (as it was
considered until fairly recently).
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