Odd Names

Edited on: 28 Aug 2015

We welcome any suggestions for additions to a list of odd names of organisms.

Aa Baker, 1940 - the mollusc
Aa Reichenbach, 1854 - the orchid
As Slipinski, 1982 - the beetle
Ba Solem, 1983 - the snail, as in Ba humbugi
Ca Dyar, 1914 - the moth
Ea Distant, 1911 - the bug
Ge de Nicéville, 1895 - the butterfly
Ia Thomas, 1902 - a bat
Io Blanchard 1852
Io Lea, 1831 - a mollusc
Io Blanchard, 1852 - said to be a moth, but ...
Ix Bergroth, 1916 - a bug
Ja Ueno, 1955 - a beetle
Jo Gregorio - a name to replace Lea's Io
La Bleszynski, 1966 - a moth
Lo Seale, 1906 - a fish
Oa Girault, 1929 - was for a wasp
Qu Durkoop, Mensink & Plodowski, 1967 - a trilobite
Ra Whitley, 1931 - another fish
Ty Bory de St. Vincent, 1827 - purportedly a 'prot'
                               according to Airey Neave
Ua Girault, 1929 - a wasp
Zu Walters & Fitch, 1960 - another fish

Jim Croft reminds us of …

Pieza rhea
Pieza deresistans
Phthiria relativitae
Carmenelectra shechisme

There is a:

Family of flies Serendipidae Evenhuis, 1994

A snail called Cornu copiae Born, 1778 (showing that humour has always been a part of taxonomy)

The flagellates:

With the flagellates Carpediemonas and Ergobibamus,
  should go the fossil Gaudeamus
Knowing one of the authors was Australian will help
  seeing the word play with the whale-eating


Giselle Walker tells us that

there is a genus - closely related to and recently split from genus Hebe by M.J. Heads in 2003 - “Hebejeebie” with the etymological explanation “refers to the anxiety these plants have often caused taxonomists” From the BBC news service (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29897841)

John Wright explained the delight that awaits someone who takes the time and trouble to unlock the true meaning behind a Latinised scientific name.

“My proudest achievement was Inocybe eutheles,” he recalled. “The prefix, eu, is Greek for good, true or nice. “The species is a fibrecap mushroom, and I found a picture of it. It was rounded, cream coloured with a little point on the top. I thought eutheles meant good or true or nice something but I wondered what theles meant. I discovered it meant nice tits - a 19th Century mycologist came up with that name.”

Names for fictitious things

Thanks mostly to contributors to Taxacom

Nessiteras rhombopteryxfor – Loch Ness monster being anagrammatic rewrite of ‘monster hoax by Sir Peter S’, in Scott & Rines 1975 Nature 258, 466-468.

Homo sapiens cognatus, for the sasquatch (Bigfoot) - Ketchum MS, Wojtkiewicz PW, Watts AB, Spence DW, Holzenburg AK, Toler DG, Prychitko TM, Zhang F, Bollinger S, Shoulders R, Smith R. DeNovo. Novel North American Hominids, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies. DeNovo Journal. 2013.

The Occlupanids

The Rhinogradentia “The Snouters”

Shillingsworthia shillingsworthi Girault, see above

Names published by Dougal Dixon in his well-known book ‘After man’.

Latin names of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote

It has been said (on Taxacom) that John J. Audubon’s revenge on Rafinesque for smashing his violin when he threw it at a bat was to send fake drawings of fishes to Rafinesque. Rafinesque then described them in Rafinesque, C. S. 1820. Ichthyologia Ohioensis, or Natural History of the fishes inhabiting the River Ohio and its tributary streams. W. G. Hunt.Lexington, Kentucky. They included:

Perca nigropunctata Rafinesque, 1820, p. 23, Black dotted perch
Aplocentrus calliops Rafinesque, 1820, p. 34, Red-Eye
Pogostoma leucops Rafinesque, 1820, p. 35, White-Eyed Barbot
Catostomus megastomus Rafinesque, 1820, p. 59, Big-Mouth Sucker
Litholepis adamantinus Rafinesque, 1820, p. 76, Devil-Jack Diamond-fish
Dinectus truncatus Rafinesque, 1820, p. 82, Flatnose Doublefin

The Tribbles

Leo Lionni’s “Parallel Botany” is like the Rhinogradentia book, but describes “parallel plants’ rather than animals. It has dozens of invented species and genera.

When the zoologist Alain Quintart described in 1952 Marsupilamus fantasii (later re-named Marsupilami franquini), a fictitious monotreme from Africa, his account was picked up by the Zoological Society of London. For more: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsupilami

And for those who like Tolkien

Ferandez-Triana, Ward, Cardinal and van Achterberg describe the braconid wasps Shireplitis bilboi, S. frodoi, S. meriadoci, S. peregrini, S. samwisei and S. tolkieni from New Zealand see http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2013/f/zt03722p568.pdf - and even the holotype was presented in a showcase in the exhibition halls of the museum (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels)

Keep your eye open on fictional alien species at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_fictional_species