Binomial Nomenclature: Definition, Types, & Examples

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Binomial Nomenclature Definition

Binomial Nomenclature system consists of scientifically assigning names to organisms that were developed by Carl Linnaeus. In Systema Naturae, he tried to identify and name different animals and plants and this was published between 1735 and 1758. In this work, he established the concept of binomial nomenclature.

The nomenclature of organisms is done such that it lays clarity on ecology and evolution in general. Having a universally accepted name helps give clarity and identity to the species and promotes discussions even among researchers of different nationalities. It also helps avoid confusion regarding different colloquial local names.

What is Binomial Nomenclature?

Under Binomial Nomenclature system, 2 names or epithets are employed in the scientific name. The first is known as the generic epithet that specifies the genus of the organism. The other epithet is known as a specific epithet that describes the species of the organism. The epithets are derived from Latin base and are assigned based on characteristics of the organism that links it to a specific group.

The scientific name should be italicized or underlined when written to recognize it as a scientific name. In the case of a scientific name, only the generic epithet should be capitalized as opposed to some older documents. If many species of the same genus are discussed together, then the generic name can be abbreviated, otherwise, the full name is usually written.

The generic epithet that denotes the genus name that also represents the taxonomic hierarchy of each organism that shows its relation to other taxonomic groups, evolution, origin, and its life history.

Lower taxonomic ranks have common traits that link them to higher taxonomic groups. Even if the species loses some of its ancestral traits, this naming system helps in understanding those evolutionary relationships in the context of taxonomy. The species may even be sub-divided into smaller sub-species that are then represented after species name, giving more specific details.

It may be useful as species are also even now evolving which creates a requirement for multiple subspecies designation. The scientist who first discovers and describes a species is sometimes noted after the species’ scientific name. This gives some clarity as to the authority and helps to avoid any confusion as any changes in names are documented.

Binomial Nomenclature Examples

Felis concolor: This animal is also known as the puma, mountain lion, cougar, painter, or catamount. This large cat has many different names not only in English but also in Spanish. It is a predatory single-colored cat that is known as poema, yaguá-pitá, león Colorado, guasura, and onça-vermelha.

When sharing any information or research on this animal, scientists need to be clear of the confusion posed by colloquial names. The emergence of the scientific name Felis concolor helps avoid any kind of confusion.

Homo sapiens: This scientific name is combined with 2 Latin words hom and sapien. Hom refers to the humans thus indicating the genus Homo that it belongs to. This genus includes the extinct or ancestors and the modern forms of humans. The specific epithet details the only living species of this genus and also segregates us from other species like Homo neaderthalensis that got extinct as a consequence of competition from modern man.

The skill of the modern man to use tools and increased brain compacity that helped in language formation must have aided in their successful evolution. There is also some evidence that the 2 species may also have interbred at some point.

Binomial Nomenclature Citations

The Importance of Binomial Nomenclature for the Identification of Pollen Aeroallergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract . 2021 Jul;9(7):2642-2644.

Binomial nomenclature for virus species: a long view. Arch Virol . 2020 Dec;165(12):3079-3083.

Binomial nomenclature for virus species: a consultation. Arch Virol . 2020 Feb;165(2):519-525.


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