Proposal (516) to South American Classification Committee



Establish the English name of Eudyptes moseleyi




With the passage of Proposal #511, Eudyptes moseleyi was accepted as a distinct species from E. chrysocome, and added to the main SACC list. Five vernacular names have already been used for E. moseleyi (listed below) although none have a great deal of trajectory given that this is a relatively recent split stemming principally from papers published in 2006 (see #511).




Northern Rockhopper Penguin.

Pros- The name correctly implies that the species is split from E. chrysocome, and has some recent usage.


Cons- E. moseleyi is genetically more divergent from E. chrysocome than several other penguin species pairs are from each other (#511), thus this name perhaps gives the impression of an extremely close relationship. Put into perspective, this is not the case and these species do not even look similar. Moreover, all Eudyptes penguins are “rockhoppers” that hop out of the sea onto rocks. Usage of the name Northern Rockhopper Penguin has induced some authors to rename the traditionally named Rockhopper Penguin E. chrysocome (the name used by SACC) as the Southern Rockhopper Penguin (e.g. BirdLife International, I.O.C.) or even Western Rockhopper Penguin can be found on the web. Not only is having to rename a traditional species name by default an awkward situation, but also these trinomials are also cumbersome; the number of ornithologists or birders using the name Southern Rockhopper Penguin is surely also a minority. Furthermore, modifiers such as Northern and Southern become pointless when the species are found together, which is the case in the SACC region. If accepted, SACC would then have to decide whether to rename E. chrysocome as the Southern Rockhopper Penguin.


Pinnamin [sometimes also spelt Pinamin]

Pros- This is the name used by the Tristan islanders, and is a corruption of the word penguin. It is noteworthy that the islanders refer to the Common Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix dacunhae as the Flying Pinnamin.


Cons- Could be a difficult name to employ as a single noun, while Pinnamin Penguin makes little sense.


Moseley’s Penguin

Pros- Reflects the scientific name in honour of Henry Nottidge Moseley 1844-1891, who visited Gough Island aboard the H.M.S. Challenger. The name has some trajectory in published papers, a little more so than Northern Rockhopper Penguin.


Cons- Moseley was not an ornithologist and was best known for his studies of corals and arthropods, and subsequent anthropological studies of North American Indians. Moseley’s name is already enshrined in the scientific name, and little or nothing more can be gained by repeating it in the vernacular name. Furthermore, there may be a pronunciation issue since Moseley could be pronounced in two different manners; moaz-lee’s and mo-sé-lee’s. Spanish speakers would likely use the second, although the first is correct. 


Tristan Penguin

Pros- Although not a name that has been used by ornithologists, this name can be commonly found on the web to refer to the only penguin species at Tristan da Cunha and Gough. Would appear to be a very informative and accurate name because immediately the user knows exactly which species is involved. E. moseleyi is one of the five most threatened penguin species, has seen a vast population crash since the 1950’s, and is classified as Endangered (BirdLife International 2012); thus, naming the principle group of breeding islands in the vernacular name could help the plight of the species.


Cons- None, except that a small proportion of the moseleyi population breeds on two adjacent islands in the Indian Ocean.


Long-crested Rockhopper Penguin

Pros- A fairly informative name, despite its length. Note that Short-crested Rockhopper Penguin has been used for E. chrysocome filholi.

Cons- Could be confused with other “long-crested penguins” in particular Eudyptes sclateri, especially if the word Rockhopper is removed. The important detail of the crest of E. moseleyi is that it hangs downwards and is notably abundant, so these crucial features are not conveyed by this name. Usage of the word Rockhopper has its drawbacks as mentioned above (under Northern Rockhopper Penguin). Furthermore, this is of course an unusually long species name.





Of the names listed, Northern Rockhopper Penguin would be my last choice and Long-crested Rockhopper Penguin could cause confusion. Any of the other names seem acceptable, although I recommend Tristan Penguin for the reasons discussed. A YES vote would establish Tristan Penguin as the vernacular name of E. moseleyi.


Literature cited


BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Eudyptes moseleyi.


Mark Pearman, February 2012



Comments from Remsen: “YES.  Although novel, now is the time to devise a good name, not later once uglier or longer names have some traction.  I like Mark’s rationale for this name as well as the pros and cons for the other candidates.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES.  Tristan is short, accurate and evocative.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES” for establishing the English name of “Tristan Penguin” for Eudyptes moseleyi.  I love geographic modifiers for English names, especially in cases such as this one, where it really does convey important information about the range of the bird.”