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Re: Metaves and Coronaves

Nick Pharris wrote:

It depends what the etymology of the name is.  If (as I think I recall) the
second element is Greek _kleis_ 'key', then the family name should be
"Pteroclididae" or "Pterocleididae".

In the case of _Pterocles_, I believe the second element actually comes from the Greek _kles_ ('famous'; 'noted for') rather than _kleis_ ('key'). The same element pops up in _Carcharocles_, a genus of very large (and very extinct) shark. _-kles_ was quite a common ending for proper names in ancient Greece: Sophocles, Heracles, Iphicles, Themistocles, Pericles, etc.

Thus, Fain and Houde are grammatically correct when they give the sandgrouse family as Pteroclidae, as given by Sibley and Monroe (1990-93), not Pteroclididae. (Similarly, in Greek mythology, the descendents of Heracles were called the Heraclidae.)

Alas, in this day and age, the grammatically correct version doesn't always carry the day. We have Caudipteridae (rather than Caudipterygidae, as in Archaeopterygidae) and Ceratopsidae (versus Ceratopidae, as in Meropidae). There is also a family of sharks called the Megachasmidae (rather than Megachasmatidae, as in Ctenochasmatidae). In recent decades, we have become very sloppy in our naming conventions. Tut tut.