About Scientific Names


 This website will make extensive use of scientific names. Scientific names are names of creatures  around the world. We usually speak of creatures name by our native language. For example, the dog. For example, Japanese (author is Japanese) call a dog "inu," but English speakers call it "dog," and people in other language speaking regions may have other names for them. This makes it difficult to know what to talk about a particular creature. This is where the scientific name, a universal name, comes in handy.


 Scientific names basically consist of two words: the first is the genus name and the second is the species name. For example, gray wolf belongs to the genus Canis, so it is called Canis lupus. For example, another species of the same genus, the white-tailed jackal, is named Canis adustus. In this way, species of the same genus have the same first word, but different second words. This is called "binominal nomenclature". In animals, only the first letter of the genus name is capitalized, and all other letters are lowercase. And the scientific name is italicized in both the genus name and the species name so that it can be distinguished.

 If species have subspecies, the name of the subspecies should be written after the species name. For example, Canis lupus familiaris is a subspecies of Canis lupus. A subspecies that represents a species, where the species name and subspecies name are the same, is called "nominotypical subspecies". In this case, it is Canis lupus lupus (European wolf).

 After the species or subspecies name, the name of the person who described it and the year of description are often written. For example, Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758, because Carl von Linnaeus gaved it a scientific name in 1758. It is not necessary to italicize the name of the person and the year. Incidentally, Mr. Linnaeus is the one who proposed this scientific name in his book "The System of Nature" and formally adopted "binominal nomenclature" system  (Mr. Boan was the first to adopt this system). In some cases, the name of the author and the year of description are in parentheses, which means that the genus name has changed since the original description. Even if the taxonomy is changed, the species names are basically inherited, and the nomenclators of the species names continue to be used.

 The genus, species and subspecies names are basically derived from Latin. For example, "familiaris" means "family.

 The genus and species names (if there are subspecies) can be abbreviated if necessary by adding a period after the first letter of the genus or species name. For example, C. lupus or C. l. familiaris.

 If the species name is unknown or undescribed, the abbreviation "sp." is used. For example, if you know that it is a genus of Canis, but you don't know which species it is, you can use "Canis sp.".  This means "species". 

 And "ssp." is used for "subspecies". For example, "Canis lupus ssp.". It is often confused with "spp.", but this is an abbreviation for multiple species of one genus. For example, when speaking of the genus Canis collectively, use "Canis spp. are ...".


 And about synonyms (different names for the same species). For example, if a species A is published, and then a species B is published, and later research shows that B is the same species as A, the first name A is used as the scientific name, and the scientific name B is invalid. Both A and B are referred to as synonyms. To distinguish them, A is called senior synonym and B is called junior synonym.


 As mentioned above, scientific names are derived from Latin, so many of the characteristics of the species can be understood by translating the genus and species names.

 Most scientific names are derived from personal names, place names, Latin words, and words from other languages. Please read the follow article.