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Scientific Names of Species 



What is a Scientific Name?

Common names for organisms are often confusing because anyone can make them up, and they may apply to more than one species. For instance, bluegill, bream and brim are all common names used for the same type of fish. “Moss” is a common name applied to algae as well as a group of plants.

The rules for naming species are part of the nomenclature of science. A scientific name is the official name for each organism. It is made up of two parts, a genus name (written first, with the first letter capitalized) and a species name. Sometimes a third part, the subspecies name is also used. The name is always in Latin because when this naming process started, most people everywhere knew Latin. A scientific name must be underlined or in italics when written. In technical literature, the author’s name often follows the species name to indicate the person who first described it as being new to science. Scientific names help scientists to study organisms, especially when working with other scientists. When scientists talk about Lepomis macrochirus they know which species is being discussed no matter where in the world they may be. Lepomis macrochirus is commonly known as the bluegill, bream or brim.

The following names relate to species mentioned in the Kids for Conservation™ Web site.

Common Name      
Scientific Name
 American beaver    Castor canadensis
 American bullfrog     Lithobates catesbeianus
 American robin      Turdus migratorius
 American badger    Taxidea taxus
 armadillo  Dasypus novemcinctus
 barred owl     Strix varia 
 bobcat  Lynx rufus
 coyote  Canis latrans
 eastern fox squirrel    Sciurus niger
 eastern gray squirrel    Sciurus carolinensis
 gray fox      Urocyon cinereoargenteus
 Jack O’lantern mushroom   Omphalotus olearius
 luna moth     Actias luna
 mourning dove          Zenaida macroura
 northern flying squirrel    Glaucomys sabrinus 
 northern leopard frog        Lithobates pipiens
 pokeweed   Phytolacca americana
 raccoon  Procyon lotor
 red fox       Vulpes vulpes
 southern flying squirrel    Glaucomys volans
 southern leopard frog    Lithobates sphenocephalus
 Virginia opossum    Didelphis virginiana 
 white-tailed deer    Odocoileus virginianus
 woodchuck  Marmota monax

Some common names are used to represent more than one species. The terms shown below represent more than one type of organism, so the scientific name is not shown for them.