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Rethinking Primate Eponyms

A Step Toward Decolonizing Primatology 

Why Remove Primate Eponyms?

Primatology remains characterized by a deeply colonial dynamic. Recent movements to “decolonize” primatology seek to redress the legacies of colonialism and make primatology more inclusive and equitable. Accordingly, we suggest re-evaluating the names by which we refer to primate species, especially those that honor specific people: EPONYMS.

The Anti-Eponym Movement


Eponyms are names of people, animals, or places, among other things, that derive from people's names. Eponymous names are common in taxonomy and prevalent in many fields, including ornithology, entomology, and medicine, where their ethical implications are also under scrutiny

(Bird Names for Birds; Entomological Society of America; Australian Medical Journal)

Whom do Primate Eponyms Honor?

Click to read the commentary!


Inspired by the 'Bird Names for Birds' movement, we investigated the prevalence, breakdown, and histories of eponymous primate names.

Over 29% of primate common and scientific names, including subspecies names, are eponymous. Over 50% honor colonial-era men from the Global North. Only 8.4% honor individuals from primate range countries and 7.5% honor women.  

Do you have info on the etymology of a primate common name in English or scientific name?
Or do you know of an Indigenous name?

Please share on the Questions/Comments Page!

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