Do our names say anything about us? When I introduce myself and you hear my name, do you get some information about me (e.g. about my job, etc...)? I don’t think so. But what about names in the animal kingdom?
Biologists use the binomial nomenclature since Carl von Linné wrote his amazing work, Species Plantarum, in 1753. This format makes the identification of species easier during our daily work. Some Latin names are not very interesting while some say something about their owners (Ciconia nigra or Macropus giganteus). However, I found some names that show two important things: scientist have a sense of humour and a really colourful fantasy! (Okay, maybe not every one of them...) Thus, I’m going to list some funny or interesting scientific names from the field of zoology.
Let us first analyse one of the most favourite African animals in zoos, the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)!
Giraffa = nothing interesting
camelo = camel
pardalis = panther
Next, let us look at the animal that holds the record of the longest scientific name: Parastratiosphecomyia sphecomyioides. It is a nice name that is 35 characters long, but some people say that this fly is not the record-holder. There is one 15 letters longer, but it is not formally adopted: Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaicalensis. Which one do you prefer?
Which is the animal with the shortest name? Where can it be found? In which genus should we look? Eos, Bos or Ara? No! The winner is: Aha, Aha ha. This is an Australian wasp species named by Arnold Menke as a joke.
Here are eight more very funny scientific animal names:
1. Vini vidivici: Unfortunately this mysterious parakeet became extinct approximately 1000 years ago.
2. Wunderpus photogenicus: It’s a really beautiful and photogenic octopus.
For Harrison Ford fans:
3. Calponia harrisonfordi
4. Pheidole harrisonfordi
The first one is a spider species found in California in the United States that was discovered in 1993, the latter one is an ant species.
Speaking of ants, here is another species from Madagascar:
5. Proceratium google
But now let’s return to Harrison Ford and movies. Do you remember Star Wars?
6. Han solo: This trilobite is known only from fossils found in southern China.
If you prefer the dark side:
7. Agathidium vaderi
And finally the 8th:
Carmenelectra shechisme – No comment!
Many animals got their names after the people who discovered them or about famous scientists. One example is the okapi (Okapia johnstoni). This animal is the symbol of the ZOOmoments project, as you can see it in our logo. The discoverer was Sir Harry H. Johnston. Nevertheless, the most famous eponyms are Linné (loads of named species) and Charles Darwin (14 plant and animal species).
And last but not least, there are only three names left:
The easiest to remember: Gorilla gorilla gorilla
Tongue-twister: Upupa epops
And Canis lupus familiaris: the domestic dog is the one and only species to get the „familiaris” name in the binomial nomenclature!
There are a lot of peculiar names in the animal kingdom, this was only the beginning.
The second part: Nomen est omen II