Tag Archives: Linneaus

Wonderful Latin Names, Part I: Upupa epops

(Image by Dûrzan cîrano, from Wikipedia.org)

Our subject today is formal scientific names for species (or “Latin names”, although they need not actually be derived from Latin).  Few things about biology seem to puzzle and annoy laypeople, not to mention undergraduate students, more than our habit of using long, arcane, and sometimes unpronounceable names for the species we study.  (Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis, anyone?).  We can explain why these names serve an essential purpose, and we can handle them more adroitly with experience; but if truth be told, we don’t necessarily enjoy using Latin names.  But there are exceptions, and this post is the first in what I hope will be an occasional series celebrating wonderful Latin names. Continue reading