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Old 12th December 2009   #24 (permalink)
Nathan
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Default Re: Scientific Nomenclature

Excellent write-up, Azhael. I would add that "cf." is an abbreviation for Latin confer, the imperative form of the verb meaning "compare". So, for example, Ambystoma cf. tigrinum means: "an Ambystoma, compare to A. tigrinum". It is used for species which are known to be distinct but are not yet described.

Some generic names and their meanings (Gr.=Greek, L.=Latin):

Ambystoma- a tricky one; though by some to be a misspelling of Gr. amblus stoma, meaning "blunt mouth", but also suggested to be an elision of ana buein stoma, meaning "to stuff into the mouth"

Amphiuma- elision of Gr. amphi pneuma: "breathe on both sides"

Aneides- from Gr. aneidos: "shapeless"

Bolitoglossa- from Gr. bolitos glosse: "mushroom tongue"

Cryptobranchus- from Gr. kryptos branchion: "hidden gill"

Cynops- from Gr. kuon opsis: "dog face"

Desmognathus- from Gr. desmos gnathos: "bundle jaw"

Echinotriton- from Gr. echinos triton: "spiny triton" (Triton was a classical sea deity; European newts were originally placed in the genus Triton and that element is common in the names of various salamanders)

Ensatina- from L. ensatus: "sword-shaped"

Eurycea- made up by Rafinesque; he said it was a "mythological" name

Gyrinophilus- from Gr. gyrinos philos: "spring loving"

Ichthyosaura- from Gr. ichthus sauros: "fish lizard"

Mesotriton- from Gr. mesos triton: "middle triton"

Necturus- from Gr. nektos ouros: "swimming tail"

Neurergus- from Gr. neuron ergon: "sinew/nerve/string work"

Notophthalmus- from Gr. notos ophthalmos: "back eye"

Pachytriton- from Gr. pachus triton: "thick triton"

Plethodon- from Gr. plethore odon: "plenty of teeth"

Proteus- from Gr. proteus: mythical sea deity

Salamandra- from L. salamandra: mythical fire-loving creature

Siren- from Gr. siren: mythical sea creature

Taricha- from Gr. tarichos: "mummy"

Tylototriton- from Gr. tylotos triton: "knobbed triton"
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