Monday, July 16, 2012

Nine Animals That Got Screwed When Scientific Names Were Handed Out (And Six That Didn’t)

Oddly, binomial nomenclature permits animals to have the same genus and species name but not plants. Don’t believe me? Look at every plant name ever. The ones that approach duplication fall just short: Ziziphus zizyphus, for example. Better known as the common jujube — and shouldn’t that be its own blog post? the differentiation between the jujubes that grows in the ground and the jujubes you buy at the movie theater concession stand? — its name is spelled differently at the genus and species levels for no reason other than to avoid tautonym status. Animals and animal-namers, however, don’t have to worry about repetition, and as a result, certain species sound horribly unimaginative. Others don’t. Yes, I have listed the ones that stood out to me.
Ones that sound boring and unimaginative:

Bison bison
Chinchilla chinchilla
Iguana iguana
Gorilla gorilla
Hyaena hyaena
Mops mops
Rattus rattus
Indicator indicator
Gecko gecko
And, conversely, those who sound unusually cool for having their exotic-seeming biological name repeated twice:

Vulpes vulpes
Lynx lynx
Bubo bubo
Cygnus cygnus 
Bombina bombina 
Mephitis mephitis

Of interest, if you have gotten this far: Some Hybrid Animal Math.

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