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taxonomic translation?
November 9, 2005 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a website that provides meanings of scientific names for plants and animals?
posted by dhruva to Science & Nature (9 answers total)
 
Wikispecies?
posted by boo_radley at 11:58 PM on November 9, 2005


Googling for the term taxonomy and your species name may help as well.
posted by Rothko at 12:08 AM on November 10, 2005


(i tried googling but it's a hit and miss affair), but i'm looking for something like a latin/greek dictionary for biological names. Something that tells me what the root word is, etc. Often you can know a lot about how the species looks by knowing a bit of latin or greek, but not all the time.
posted by dhruva at 12:13 AM on November 10, 2005


For animals, there's Animal Diversity Web. You can search by scientific name.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:39 AM on November 10, 2005


To clarify, the poster is not asking about taxonomy, he's asking about the meaning of scientific names. Neither Wikispecies nor Animal Diversity Web provides this. Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature does, but only for names they consider "curious." I too would like to see such a site, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't exist... except I guess biologists tend not to be that interested in etymology, and vice versa.
posted by languagehat at 6:49 AM on November 10, 2005


I guess biologists tend not to be that interested in etymology, and vice versa.

The problem is that past species name there is no one named criteria used for genus. It could be the PIs last name, someone famous, a location, or other descriptor of the researcher's choice.

To learn the "meaning" of the species name, you might just as well do a Google lookup, or open up a Latin-English dictionary and search for roots. There's one online, even.
posted by Rothko at 8:23 AM on November 10, 2005


I know you're looking for a website, but I would highly recommend the Dictionary of Root Words and Combining Forms, which deals with etymologies of scientific words, focusing primarily on those associated with animals, plants, and medicine.
posted by almostbarefoot at 8:29 AM on November 10, 2005


The problem is that past species name there is no one named criteria used for genus. It could be the PIs last name, someone famous, a location, or other descriptor of the researcher's choice.

Well, yeah, that's exactly why a nomenclature-etymology site is needed. At least for those of us who like that sort of thing. A reference like almostbarefoot's book is useless once you get beyond the melano- = 'black,' gaster = 'belly' stuff.
posted by languagehat at 11:59 AM on November 10, 2005


almostbarefoot: That dictionary is exactly what I'm looking for, but I guess I'll have to order the book. Thanks.
posted by dhruva at 7:46 PM on November 30, 2005


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