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Binomial Nomenclature - Fun With Names

When examining scientific names, you will most likely be surprised at the number of interesting variety of sources for the names, as well as jokes and puns. Check out the following names and see if you don't agree!

Authority: Erwin (who obviously has a sense of humor)
Agra dable Erwin, 2002 (carabid) From Spanish word 'agradable' meaning 'pleasing'.
Agra vation Erwin, 1983 (carabid) Erwin says there is nothing aggravating about it.
Agra phobia Erwin (carabid)

Authority: Kirklady (who was criticized for frivolity by the London Zoological Society in 1912)
Ochisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - O Kiss Me!
Dolichisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Dolly kiss Me!
Florichisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Flori Kiss Me!
Marichisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Mary kiss Me!
Nanichisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Nani Kiss Me!
Peggichisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Peggy kiss Me!
Polychisme Kirklady, 1904 (hemiptera) - Polly Kiss Me!

Authority: Evenhuis (Definitely liked pizza)
Pieza deresistans, Evenuis 2002 (mythicomyiid fly)
Pieza kake Evenhuis, 2002 (mythicomyiid fly)
Pieza pi Evenhuis, 2002 (mythicomyiid fly)
Pieza rhea Evenhuis, 2002 (mythicomyiid fly)

Authority: Brennan & Beck (Obviously music lovers, based on species names)
Trombicula doremi Brennan & Beck, 1955 (chigger)
Trombicula fasola Brennan & Beck, 1955 (chigger)

Eucritta melanolimnetes Clack, 1998 (fossil amphibian) Loosely translates as "Creature from the black lagoon" [Nature 394: 66-69].

Vampyroteuthis infernalis Chun, 1903 (squid relative) "Vampire squid from Hell".

Apopyllus now Platnick & Shadab, 1984 (spider) Like "Apocalypse Now"

Ba humbugi Solem, 1983 (endodontoid snail)

Castnia inca dincadu Miller, 1972 (castniid moth) [Bull. Allyn Mus. 6: 1-13]

Cephise nuspesez Burns (skipper butterfly) Pronounced "new species".

Cyclocephala nodanotherwon Ratcliffe (scarab) Ratcliffe described several others in this large genus.

Eubetia bigaulae Brown (tortricid moth) pronounced "youbetcha bygolly".

Gelae baen, Gelae belae, Gelae donut, Gelae fish, and Gelae rol Miller and Wheeler, 2004 (fungus beetles) Obviously scientists with a sweet-tooth!

Mastophora dizzydeani Eberhard, 1984 (spider) Named after baseball player Dizzy Dean. This particular spider uses a sticky ball on the end of a thread to catch its prey.

Albunea groeningi Boyko, 2002 (sand crab) Named after Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons".

Serratoterga larsoni (Ecuadorian butterfly) Named after cartoonist Gary Larson.

Effigia okeeffeae Nesbitt 2007. (Archosaur) from Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, near where the artist Georgia O'Keeffe lived.

Livyatan melvillei Lambert et al. 2010 (fossil sperm whale) Named for the author of Moby Dick, which famous book includes a chapter on whale fossils.

Psephophorus terrypratchetti Köhler, 1995 (Eocene fossil turtle) Terry Pratchett wrote a series of fantasy books set on a world carried on the back of a giant turtle. [J. Royal Soc. N.Z. 25:371]

Mozartella beethoveni Girault, 1926 (encyrtid wasp) Named after Mozart and Beethoven

Mackenziurus johnnyi, M. joeyi, M. deedeei, M. ceejayi Adrian and Edgecombe, 1997 (trilobites) Named after the Ramones.

Preseucoila imallshookupis Buffington, 2004 (gall wasp) The genus is named after Elvis Presley, the specific name for one of his songs.

Cirolana mercuryi N. Bruce, 2004 (East African isopod) Named for Freddy Mercury, lead singer of the rock band Queen

Arcticalymene viciousi, A. rotteni, A. jonesi, A. cooki, A. matlocki Adrian and Edgecombe, 1997 (trilobites) for the Sex Pistols. [J. Paleo. 71(4)]

Hyla stingi Kaplan, 1994 (Columbian tree frog) Named after the British rock star Sting in recognition of his work for the rain forest.

Villa manillae Evenhuis, 1993 (bee fly) Inspired by the duo Milli Vanilli. [Idesia 12:19]

Orsonwelles othello, O. macbeth, O. falstaffius, O. ambersonorum Hormiga, 2002 (giant Hawaiian linyphiid spiders). These species are named after famous Orson Welles roles.

Elseya irwini Cann 1997 (Irwin's turtle) for Steve and Bob Irwin, who discovered the species in the Burdekin River in 1990. Steve was best known as 'The Crocodile Hunter' on TV but did a lot of herpetological work. Bob is his father. [Journal of the Victorian Herpetological Society 9(1)]

Ophiomyia prima, O. secunda, O. tertia, O. quarta, O. quinta, O. sexta, O. septima, O. octava, O. nona, O. undecima, O. duodecima; Spencer, 1969 (Agromyzid flies) Latin for "first", "second", "third", etc. Obviously a scientist with little imagination.

Maruina amada, M. amadora, M. cholita, M. muchacha, M. querida, M. chamaca, M. chamaguita, M. chica, M. dama, M. nina, M. tica, and M. vidamia Hogue, ~1973 (psychodid flies) All these names of Latin American flies are Spanish terms of endearment and diminutives.


These examples are just the tip of the iceberg as regards interesting and fun scientific names. Keep your eyes open and you're sure to find more as you engage in the fascinating study of Biology!

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