For the classroom

Kannal Achuthan
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Fun with taxonomy

Every plant and animal, or at least the ones we know of, have been given a scientific name.

Scientists use this naming convention, called binomial nomenclature to avoid confusion and to classify similar species into groups. Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus is credited with coming up with the system.

The system of scientific names is now governed by internationally agreed rules, of which the two most important are the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) for animals and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) for plants.

So how do scientists come up with names? The genus name and species name can come from any source. source. Often they are ordinary Latin words, but they may also come from old Greek.


Bionomial names can also be derived from the name of a naturalist, a place or local language. Taxonomists also use humour and come up with wordplay, puns and inside jokes. Here are some interesting names. You can visit for more such names.

Ba humbugi – a snail

Ytu brutus – a water beetle

Cinderella eucalla – an arthropod

Osedax mucofloris – a kind of worm (It literally means “bone-eating snot flower”; it lives in the skeletons of dead whales)

Obamadon gracilis – a kind of lizard that lived in the age of dinosaurs.

It was named after Obama because the animal’s incisors reminded the scientists of the U.S. president’s toothy smile!



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