[From Neotropical Primates 5(3), September, 1997.] PHILIP HERSHKOVITZ: A REMEMBRANCE by Russell A. Mitterrneier My first personal encounter with Philip Hershkovitz came more hen 20 years ago when I was a graduate student at Harvard. I had written a term paper on marmoset tax- onomy based on some skull measurements of several spe- cies and a multivariate statistical analysis of the relation- ships among them. Like many term papers, it was largely inconclusive, but like many graduate students I had more confidence than good sense and decided to publish it. Phil's response was swift and merciless. He tore it to shreds, and suggested as a title for his response, "The Untaxonomy of Brazilian Marmosets". I was temporarily devastated, but, as was so often the case, Phil was right. He understood Neotropical mammals, and especially Neotropical pri- mates, better than anyone else and he had little patience for work that did not meet his high standards. When Phil died on February 15, 1997, it was a great loss for all of us working on Neotropical primates and it cre- ated a gap that is unlikely ever to be filled. He was a field mammalogist of the old school, with tireless energy and an understanding of the creatures on which he worked that only comes from decades of hands-on work in nature and in the museum. The many sophisticated biochemical techniques and the endless array of computer programs increasingly available today are extremely useful in sys- tematics, but they can never replace the deep, almost in- stinctual understanding of the relationships between ani- mals that comes from working intimately with them for so many years. Phil had this kind of knowledge, and it enabled him to sort through the nearly two centuries of mistakes and confusion in Neotropical primate taxonomy and create a framework upon which all of us today base our own work. He was able to take the marmosets and tamarins, for example, and turn their taxonomy from a chaotic mess into a clear and understable system that greatly clarified the relationships among these animals. His classic work, Living New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini, Vol. 1), is one of the truly great publications in the history of mammalogy, and many of us have built careers around updating and expanding upon it. Without the enormous amount of work done by Phil to provide this solid founda- tion, we would likely still be unclear as to what we were dealing with in terms of species and subspecies of the Callitrichidae and the other Neotropical genera on which he worked. Lest anyone doubt the significance of Phil's work for Neo- tropical primatology, he or she need only look at the cur- rent situation with Old World monkeys, where much con- fusion still exists as to the numbers of species and subspe- cies. Without the benefit of a Hershkovitz to sort out the 200 years of names and descriptions, Old World prima- tology is simply not as advanced as its Neotropical coun- terpart. This is a barrier not just to scientific research, but also to conservation, since it is very difficult to put effec- tive conservation plans into effect when one is not certain what organisms one is dealing with. Unfortunately, Phil never completed his overview of the Neotropical monkeys, and never did publish volume 2 of Living New World Monkeys, although he did revise six other genera (Aotus, Saimiri, Callicebus, Pithecia, Chiropotes and Cacajao) in addition to the five covered in the callitrichid volume. For some reason, he shifted attention to non-primate mammals in the last few years of his life, a gain for those working on rodents and marsupi- als but a major loss for those of us working on monkeys. He never completed the five prehensile-tailed genera, Cebus, Alouatta, Ateles, Lagothrix and Brachyteles, and predictably, with the exception of Brachyteles, which has only two taxa, these remain the most poorly understood Neotropical genera in taxonomic terms. Despite his reputation for being ornery and combative and the fact that he was basically a loner (very few of his pa- pers are co-authored), he was very responsive to anyone interested in his work. He would reply immediately to cor- respondence, and if you were fortunate enough to visit his office in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, he would pull out as many specimens as you might want to see and give you hours of detailed explanation on the taxonomy of whatever genus or species might be of inter- est. He was as charming and delightful as he was ornery, and I for one always left a meeting with him with that unusual, uplifting feeling that one gets on those very rare occasions when one has the chance to be in the presence of a truly great man. Phil's enormous career output included some 160 scien- tific papers and 100 non-technical publications spanning 50 years, and, in my opinion, he must be considered the greatest Neotropical mammalogist of our century. All of us working on Neotropical primates owe him a great deal, and there is no doubt that he will be sorely missed. Russell A. Mittermeier, Chairman IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, c/o Conservation International, 2501 M Street N. W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20037, USA.
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