Binomial Nomenclature by Stella M. Turk MBE

Before Linnaeus’ Systema Natura of 1758
The naming of species was in a chaotic state
A string of descriptive words was a ‘name’ **
With no laws to show which was the same
As another description with the same aim.
Linnaeus proposed a unique combination
Of only two words for a species citation
To use world-wide with no disputation.
A full-citation has author and date,
As Patella vulgata *** Linn. 1758
Words from any language can be utilised
- Chinese, English, Greek – when latinized.
The ICZN **** holds overall sway
To check laws are applied in the correct way.

Stella M Turk MBE

May 2005

Stellas notes:

** It was also in 1758 that that the great Cornish naturalist William Borlase published The Natural History of Cornwall Here is an example of a descriptive ‘name’ that he gave the large jellyfish that we know as Rhizostoma octopus (Linnaeus , 1758 ). "Urtica marina octopedalis octo faucibus et variis appendicibus ventralibus distincta" *** Patella vulgata - Common Limpet

**** International Council for Zoological Nomenclature (Botanists have their own rules of citation).

NB If an author’s name is in brackets, it indicates that it has been reclassified, although the second (specific) name is the same. Also note that authors' names are often abbreviated e.g. Linn. or just L. for Linneaus.


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