Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History at MIT, gives a talk on hybridization and taxonomy.
The possibilities offered by hybridization or crossing engaged the energies of animal experts from stockbreeders to zookeepers in the 19th century; it also attracted the fascinated or horrified attention of the general public. Motivations were equally various, from the pragmatic desire to improve agricultural breeds to idle curiosity. Since the results (and non-results) of these activities were unpredictable, they also provided a way of challenging the limits of individual species and, consequently, the definition of that category (as well as other, more vernacular ones). Along with other taxonomically anomalous creatures, they have continued to perform similar functions up to the present time.
This event is free and open to the public; no registration is required.