Ernst Mayr not only lived to a distinguished age, but his years were paralleled by his scientific distinction as one of the last century's leading evolutionary biologists. One gets the measure of his own self-assessment when we read on p. 172 ‘I am presumably well qualified . . . having discussed the species problem in sixty-four books and scientific papers, published from 1927 to 2000. I also had to make decisions on species status when describing 26 new species and 473 new subspecies of birds. Furthermore I had to make decisions on the rank of species level taxa in twenty-five...

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