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Chaetura gierrae Oustalet, 1890 (1 Viewer)

Taphrospilus

Well-known member
Chaetura gierrae Oustalet, 1890 OD here
Il y a quelques années, le Museum d'histoire naturelle de Paris a acquis de M. Gierra une petite collection de Mammifères et d'Oiseaux recueillis aux nvirons de Mombassa et dans la région située plus au Nord et formant le pays des Gallas.

The Key to Scientific Names
M. Gierra (fl. 1880) French collector in East Africa (syn. Telacanthura ussheri stictilaema).

Here Ch. Gierra as collector (Charles Gierra?).
 

mb1848

Well-known member
Snakes of the World call him A .
Type: Holotype, MNHN 1897.24, a 469 mm specimen (A. Gierra, 1895). Type locality: “Tanga, dans l'Afrique orientale alle- mande” [= Tanzania].
Also called M. L. Gierra.
Bulletin . Page 79. M. L. master linguist?
 

Taphrospilus

Well-known member
The Ch. may an error because of the genus Chaetura.

It might be Léopold Gierra Catalogue des Oiseaux d'Europe. Nimes, 1878 (Handlerliste) mentioned in Bibliotheca zoologica II

He was natural history dealer in Marseille and traveled in Africa.
 
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PScofield

Well-known member
Alexis Gierra, born in a family of Genoese origins coming from the island of Tabarka, offshore Tunisia. Active in North Africa by the end of the 18th century, Gierra worked as an interpreter of Arabic for the French traders in Tunisia, and was later hired by the municipality of Marseilles as a “sworn interpreter of Oriental languages”: a zealous freemason, he also actively sought to spread masonic ideals among the “Orientals” in Marseilles (many of whom he met through his “profane” activity), and served for many years as an interpreter between the French-, Greek-, and Arabic-speaking members of his lodge
Here

And here

BUT I think that this is a case of mistaken identity. Alexis Guillaume Gierra (1776-1835) was a famous linguist but had nothing to do with the snake or the birds from Mombassa collected 50 years after his death.
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
The media (pics of specimens, etc.) on the mnhn website seem to be down now -- or at least I can't see them -- which does not help. In the mnhn collections, there are specimens attributed to
  • Gierra, Ch.
  • Gierra A.
  • Gierra
  • Gierra|Gierra
  • Gierra|Révoil, Georges|Gierra
...so things do not seem straightforward.
Note that most of the specimens attributed to "Gierra, Ch." are not in the genus Chaetura, nor in any other genus starting with "Ch."

Bits that may be useful (or not) :

Degland & Gerbe 1867 refer to a specimen of African Chaffinch that would have been killed near Marseille in 1861 by the son of M. Gierra, naturalist: here. (I.e., there may be at least two generations of naturalists named Gierra.)
One Léopold Gierra, born in Marseille, was préparateur at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de Marseille in 1878-80: here.
One Léopold Gierra, naturalist from Marseille, talked about his travels in Africa at a meeting of the Société Royale de Géographie d'Anvers on 16 Mar 1881: here.
 

PScofield

Well-known member
Nice work Laurent as usual. So I think Alexis the linguist was the grandfather, a son was Antoine, and another Cesar Prudent Clément Gierra.

Léopold Alexis Antoine Fortuné Gierra (1848- ) is our man son of Cesar Prudent Clément.

1654552382023.png

I could not find a death in Marseille but he appears to have emigrated to Tanzania with a Leopold Gierra as the innkeeper at the Hôtel des Nations in Tanga in 1908 and 1912!
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Mmh... It's admittedly the only Léopold Gierra I find so far in Marseille too.
But in his marriage record -- 24 Aug 1878, here (cote 201 E 5058), 30/37 -- he is given as a statuary. He was apparently making funerary monuments, but went bankrupt in 1886: here.
I don't find it easy to reconcile this with a naturalist who would have been préparateur at the Muséum of Marseille and would have travelled in Africa at about the same time.
 
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PScofield

Well-known member
Laurent
Gierra would have been a very rare name in Marseille as the family was of Spanish/ Tunisian descent. I think the documents don't disprove he is "our man". I assume the same man was a sculptor in 1878 (which is part of the job of being a taxidermist after all) then he worked for the museum for several years until 1880. Then he went to Africa. On his return, he set up a funeral masonry business but that went bust so he went back to Tanzania where he sold specimens back to European museums then he set up a Hotel where he was still working in 1912 and I guess he died there.

In the french link previously I find

AM, 2 F 118 Recensement de Marseille, 1807, Rue de la Foire, section 19, île 291, n° 5. Le recensement, élaboré en 1807 à partir de données récoltées l’année précédente, ne mentionne que trois enfants du couple Gierra : Antoine, Anne et Fortuné, âgés respectivement de 5 ans, 4 ans et 2 ans. Or, si Fortuné décède en février 1806, nous connaissons l’existence de deux autres enfants susceptibles d’être en vie en 1807 : Nicolas, né en juillet 1802, et Joséphine Cécile Fortunée, née en novembre 1806. Le couple aura par la suite trois autres enfants : Joseph (Michel, Simon), César (Prudent, Clément) et Amable (Rodolphe, Maximin), nés respectivement en 1809, 1811 et 1813

hence César Prudent Clément was indeed Alexis son and Léopold Alexis Antoine Fortuné's father.

P
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Yes, I guess it will be right.
The first ref to a naturalist named Gierra that I find is in Naumannia, in 1855, and presents him as an amateur bird collector. I assume this will be Léopold's father (whose official occupation was apparently "vérificateur des poids et mesures").
In the 1890s, he was indeed sending specimens to France from Tanga with some regularity -- e.g. here, here, here, here, here -- which is certainly consistent with this scenario.

His hotel:

30986789929.jpg
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Also note that (in March 1881) we find a :
"... LÉOPOLD GIERRA, professeur d'histoire naturelle; sur ses ..." (here)

Yes -- this is the same publication as in the last link of post #5 above.
But I strongly doubt he really ever was a professor and, in the main text describing his communication at this 16 Mar 1881 meeting (pp. 491 et seq. of the same volume), he is merely called a naturalist.
 

l_raty

laurent raty
The media (pics of specimens, etc.) on the mnhn website seem to be down now -- or at least I can't see them -- which does not help.

They are back now, but they don't provide any additional help -- he is always either "M. Gierra", or just "Gierra" on labels / former socles.
 

l_raty

laurent raty
Advertisement, Sept.1881 (from here):

Interesting that this mention Gongoni as a visited location, as this shows definitely that Léopold, during his first voyage, visited the type locality of Passer / Pseudostruthus gongonensis Oustalet 1890, described by Oustalet in the same paper as Chaetura gierrae, and also given as collected by "Gierra, Ch." in 1880 on the MNHN website here.

(Other specimens accessioned in 1881 (= from the period matching the first voyage) are attributed to "Gierra|Gierra" or "Gierra|Révoil, Georges|Gierra". All the other "Gierra, Ch." specimens are from the Tanga/Usambara area (where Léopold had his hotel), and accessioned in 1895-97. Other specimens from this last area and period are variously attributed to "Gierra", "Gierra|Gierra" or "Gierra A." It's a bit of a mess, thus -- hard to see a logic behind these attributions.)
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Révoil was a diplomat, an explorator, and a passionate photographer. He travelled in Africa for the French government several times in the late 1870-early 1880, which coincides with Léopold's first voyage. He has at least two birds and a snake named after him. Then he married a Brazilian woman -- in the early 1890s, he was a Consul in South America, before dying in 1894. Thus he did not visit Africa during the later period, when Gierra was sending material to Europe from Tanga.

I have never seen "Ch." used for "chez". Martin's idea may be the most likely explanation, I guess : "Ch. Gierrae", the name of the swift, may at some point have been misread as "Ch. Gierra", the name of the collector, and recorded as such. This error might then have "spread" to the accounts of some other specimens.
 

l_raty

laurent raty

The two Révoil birds are
Macroscelides revoilii Huet 1881 ser.7:t.5-6 (1880-1882) - Bulletin de la Société philomathique de Paris - Biodiversity Heritage Library (Zoonomen incorrectly links a subsequent use of this name for the bee-eater, in a separately paged section of the work where the latter was described -- right work, but wrong p. 5) is an elephant shrew (now Galegeeska revoilii).
 
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