On the origin of names

Most of you have heard of Carl von Linné, or Carolus Linnaeus. Not many of you have probably heard of Petrus Artedi, ichtyologist and close friend of Linnaeus. While in the Netherlands Artedi fell into a canal and drowned. Linnaeus, who had been given copies of Artedi's works, posthumously published these. Together the works of these swedish scientists set the rules of nomenclature and systematics still viable to this very day.

On Artedi's grave, an epitaph by George Shaw is engraved:

Here lies poor Artedi, in foreign land pyx'd
Not a man nor a fish, but something betwixt,
Not a man, for his life among fishes he past,
Not a fish, for he perished by water at last.

Names of species are binominal, they consist of two words, a capitalized generic name and a specific name, e.g. Petrochromis orthognathus.

Names of subspecies are trinominal, they consist of three words, a capitalized generic name, a specific name and a subspecific name, e.g. Petrochromis trewavasae ephippium.

The ending of the name of an animal group is a clue to the hierarchy.
-iformes are orders
-oidea are suborders
-idae are families
-inae are subfamilies
-ini are tribes

Every family must contain one genus that bears the same root, e.g. Canis is the basis for Canidae.

A specific name ending in -i (-ii) is a patronym, e.g. if you name a species after a man called Mr Mattsson, you could get Petrochromis mattssoni.

A specific name ending in -ae is a matronym, e.g. if you name a species after a woman called Mrs Mattsson, you could get Petrochromis mattssonae.

A specific name ending in -ensis refers to a place, e.g. if you name a species after the city of Stockholm, you could get Homo stockholmensis.

Below is a list where I have tried to dissect  the actual meaning of the scientific names of the different animal groups. I started from Metazoa and worked my way down through the Protostomia branch. After that I took on the Deuterostomia branch. Therefore the order is not alphabetical. Most of these words are latin or greek in origin.

Metazoa                            meta (after) + zoa (animal)

Choanoflagellata                choan (funnel) + flagellum

Porifera                             porus (pore) + ferre (to bear)

Hexactinellida                    hex (six) + actin (ray)

Calcarea                            calcareous

Epitheliozoa                       epithelium + zoa (animal)

Ctenophora                        cten (comb) + phor (to carry)

Placozoa                            plac (plate) + zoa (animal)

Planulozoa                         plan (flat) + zoa (animal)

Cnidaria                             cnidocyte

Anthozoa                            antho (flower) + zoa (animal)

Hydrozoa                           hydr (water) + zoa (animal)

Scyphozoa                          scyph (cup) + zoa (animal)

Cubozoa                             cube + zoa (animal)

Stauromedusae                  stauro (upright) + Medusa (ref. mythology; a gorgon)

Myxozoa                            myxo (slime) + zoa (animal)

Bilateria                             bi (two) + lateri (sideways)

Acoela                               a (without) + coel (body cavity)

Nemertodermatida            Nemertes (ref. mythology; one of the nereids) + derm (skin)

Xenoturbellida                   xen (stranger) + turb (commotion)

Nephrozoa                        nephridium + zoa (animal)

Protostomia                       prot (first) + stom (mouth)

Deuterostomia                  deutero (second) + stom (mouth)

Gastrotricha                      gastro (stomach) + tricha (hair)

Cycliophora                       cycl (circular) + phor (turning)

Chaetognatha                    chaeto (spine, bristle) + gnatha (jaw)

Gnathifera                         gnath (jaw) + fer (to carry)

Gnathostomulida               gnatho (jaw) + stom (mouth)

Micrognathozoa                micro (small) + gnatho (jaw) + zoa (animal)

Seisonidea                         seison (a planting) + ideo (class, species)

Acanthocephala                 acantho (spiny) + cephal (head)

Rotifera                             roti (wheel) + fer (to carry)

Lophotrochozoa                 lophophore + trochozoa larvae

Lophophorata                    lophophore

Trochozoa                          trochozoa larvae

Ectoprocta                         ecto (outside) + zoa (animal)

Entoprocta                         ento (inside) + zoa (animal)

Platyhelminthes                  platy (flat) + helminth (worm)

Catenulida                         cat (downward, against)

Rhabditophora                   rhabditophore

Neodermata                       neo (new) + derm (skin)

Brachiopoda                      brachio (arm) + poda (feet)

Rhynconelliformea             rhynco (snout, beak)

Linguliformea                     lingu (tongue)

Craniiformea                     crani (skull)

Phoronida                          phoro (to carry)

Mollusca                            moll (soft)

Gastropoda                        gastro (stomach) + poda (feet)

Cephalopoda                     cephal (head) + poda (feet)

Bivalvia                              bi (two) + valvul (valve)

Scaphopoda                       scapho (boat-shaped) + poda (feet)

Monoplacophora               mono (one) + plac (plate) + phor (to carry)

Polyplacophora                  poly (many) + plac (plate) + phor (to carry)

Aplacophora                      a (without) + plac (plate) + phor (to carry)

Coleoidea                          coleo (sheath) + ideo (class, species)

Nautiloidea                        Nautilus (ref. literature; Jules Verne) + ideo (class, species)

Ammonoidea                     ammo (sand) + ideo (class, species)

Orthoceras                        ortho (straight) + cera (horn)

Endoceras                          endo (within) + cera (horn)

Neomphalina                     neo (new) + omphalo (navel)

Patellogastropoda              patella (small dish) + gastro (stomach) + poda (feet)

Caenogastropoda              caeno (new) + gastro (stomach) + poda (feet)

Neritimorpha                     Neritos (ref. mythology; Ithaca) + morpha (shape)

Cocculiniformea                cochl (shell)

Vetigastropoda                  vetus (old) + gastro (stomach) + poda (feet)

Heterobranchia                  hetero (different) + branchi (gills)

Nemertea                          Nemertes (ref. mythology; one of the nereids)

Annelida                            annul (ring)

Polychaeta                         poly (many) + chaeta (spine, bristle)

Clitellata                            clitellum

Hirudinea                           hirudin (leech)

Echiura                              echis (viper) + ura (tail)

Sipunculida                        sipho (tube)

Ecdysozoa                          ecdysis + zoa (animal)

Loricifera                           lorica

Kinorhyncha                       kino (motion) + rhynco (snout, beak)

Priapulida                          Priapos (ref. mythology; greek god)

Nematoda                          nemato (thread)

Nematomorpha                  nemato (thread) + morpha (shape)

Tardigrada                         tardus (slow) + gradus (step)

Onychophora                     onycho (claw) + phor (to carry)

Arthropoda                        arthron (joint) + poda (feet)

Chelicerata                        chelicer

Crustacea                          crust (to stretch) + acea (belonging to)

Myriapoda                         myria (countless) + poda (feet)

Hexapoda                          hex (six) + poda (feet)

Pycnogonida                      pycno (thick) + gono (gonads)

Xiphosura                           xipho (sword) + ura (tail)

Eurypterida                        eury (wide) + pterid (feather, wing)

Arachnida                          arach (spider)

Araneae                             arach (spider)

Ophistothelae                    ophisto (posterior) + thel (nipples)

Mesothelae                       meso (middle) + thel (nipples)

Mygalomorphae                Mygal (ref. mythology; medieval britain) + morpha (shape)

 ”A mygal, `that is a beeste born trecherows to bigile, and moost gloterous, a camelion, `that is a beeste varyed in to diuerse colours, after diuerse lokingis, and a stellioun, `that is a werme depeyntid as with sterris, and a lacert, `that is a serpent that is clepid a liserd, and a moldwerp.” Middle English, 1395, Wyclif

Araneomorphae                 arach (spider) + morpha (shape)

Scorpiones                         scorpionem (scorpion)

Opiliones                           op (eye) + pili (hair)

Acari                                  acari (tiny spider)

Solifugae                            sol (sun) + fuge (run away)

Pseudoscorpiones               pseudo (false) + scorpion

Ricinulei                              ricinum (tick)

Palpigradi                           palpi (to touch gently) + grad (walk)

Amblypygi                          ambly (blunt) + pygi (buttocks)

Thelyphonida                      thely (female) + phon (murder)

Schizomida                         schizo (split)

Remipedia                          remiped, oarshaped feet

Cephalocarida                    cephal (head)

Phyllocarida                       phyllo (leaf)

Syncarida                           syn (together)

Hoplocarida                       haplo (simple)

Pericarida                          peri (near)

Eucarida                            eu (good, normal)

Malacostraca                     malaco (soft)

Eumalacostraca                  eu (good, normal) + malaco (soft)

Decapoda                          deca (ten) + poda (feet)

Maxillopoda                       maxillae + poda (feet)

Copepoda                          copi (abundance) + poda (feet)

Branchipoda                       branchi (gills) + poda (feet)

Cirripedia                           cirri (fringe) + pedia (feet)

Ostracod                            ostraco (oyster)

Chilopoda                          chilo (lips) + poda (feet)

Diplopoda                          diplo (double) + poda (feet)

Symphyla                           sym (together with) + phyla (race, class)

Pauropoda                         pauro (small) + poda (feet)

Hexapoda                          hex (six) + poda (feet)

Entognatha                        ento (inside) + gnatha (jaw)

Ectognatha                        ecto (outside) + gnatha (jaw)

Dicondylia                          with dicondylic mandibles

Pterygota                           pter (wing)

Neoptera                           neo (new) + pter (wing)

Paleoptera                         pale (old) + pter (wing)

Paraneoptera                     para (near) + neo (new) + pter (wing)

Polyneoptera                      poly (many) + neo (new) + pter (wing)

Holometabola                     holo (complete) + metabola (change)

Elliplura                              el (inward) + ura (tail)

Protura                               prot (original) + ura (tail)

Diplura                               di (two) + ura (tail)

Collembola                        coll (neck) + bola (throw)

Archeognatha                    archeo (ancient) + gnatha (jaw)

Zygentoma                        zyg (yoke)

Ephemeroptera                  hemero (day) + pter (wing)

Odonata                            odon (teeth)

Epiprocta                           epi (above) + proct (anus)

Zygoptera                          zygos (joining) + pter (wing)

Plecoptera                         plec (to turn) + pter (wing)

Embioptera                        embio (living) + pter (wing)

Zoraptera                          zo (animal) + pter (wing)

Grylloblattodea                 gryllo (cricket) + blatta (cockroach)

Mantophasmatodea           man (hand) + phas (to appear)

Dermaptera                       derm (skin) + pter (wing)

Mantodea                          man (hand)

Blattodea                           blatta (cockroach)

Isoptera                             iso (equal) + pter (wing)

Orthoptera                        ortho (straight) + pter (wing)

Caelifera                            caelare (to engrave in relief)

Ensifera                             ensis (sword)

Phasmatodea                     phas (to appear)

Psocoptera                         psokos (gnawed, ) + pter (wing)

Thysanoptera                     thysanos (fringe) + pter (wing)

Phthiraptera                       phtheir (louse) + pter (wing)

Hemiptera                          hemi (half) + pter (wing)

Heteroptera                       hetero (different) + pter (wing)

Auchenorhyncha                auches (neck) + rhynco (snout, beak)

Sternorrhyncha                  sterno (chest) + rhynco (snout, beak)

Megaloptera                      megalo (big) + pter (wing)

Raphidioptera                    raph (seam) + di (two) + pter (wing)

Neuroptera                        neuro (nerve) + pter (wing)

Coleoptera                         coleo (sheath) + pter (wing)

Diptera                              di (two) + pter (wing)

Strepsiptera                       strepsi (to twist) + pter (wing)

Mecoptera                         meco (long) + pter (wing)

Trichoptera                        tricho (hair) + pter (wing)

Lepidoptera                       lepido (scale) + pter (wing)

Hymenoptera                     hymen (membrane) + pter (wing)

Brachycera                        brachy (short) + cera (horn)

Nematocera                      nemato (thread) + cera (horn)

Siphonaptera                     siphon (tube) + pter (wing)

Archostemata                     archeo (ancient)

Myxophaga                        myxo (slime) + phaga (eat)

Adephaga                          ad (towards) + phaga (eat)

Polyphaga                          poly (many) + phaga (eat)

Apocrita                             apo (seperate)

Symphyta                           sym (together with)

Zeugloptera                       Zeus (?) / zeugma (joining)? + pter (wing)

Aglossata                          a (without) + glossa (tongue)

Heterobathmiina                hetero (different) + bathm (rank)

Glossata                            glossa (tongue)

Chordata                          chorda (cord)

Hemichordata                    hemi (half) + chorda (cord)

Echinodermata                  echino (spiny) + derm (skin)

Crinoidea                           crino (hair) + ideo (class, species)

Asteroidea                         aster (star) + ideo (class, species)

Ophiuroidea                      ophio (snake) + ideo (class, species)

Echinoidea                         echino (spiny) + ideo (class, species)

Holothuroidea                    holothuria (water polyp) + ideo (class, species)

Diploporita                        dipla (double) + pori (opening)

Enteropneusta                   entero (gut) + pneu (lung)

Pterobranchia                    pter (wing) + branchi (gills)

Graptolithina                     graph (to write) + lithos (sten)

Urochordata                      uro (tail) + chorda (cord)

Cephalochordata               cephal (head) + chorda (cord)

Myxini                                myx (slime)

Vertebrata                         vertebro (joint)

Petromyzontida                  petro (stone) + myzo (to suckle)

Conodonta                         con (with) + odonto (teeth)

Anaspid                              an (without) + aspid (shield)

Pteraspidomorphi               pter (wing) + aspid (shield) + morpha (shape)

Arandaspida                       aran (spider) + aspid (shield)

Astraspida                          astro (star) + aspid (shield)

Heterostraci                        hetero (different) + ostra (hard shell)

Thelodonti                          thel (nipples) + odonto (teeth)

Galeaspida                         galea (helmet) + aspid (shield)

Pituriaspida                        pit (aim for) + uri (water) + aspid (shield)

Osteostraci                        osteo (bone) + ostra (hard shell)

Gnathostomata                  gnatho (jaw) + stoma (mouth)

Placodermii                       plac (plate) + derm (skin)

Chondrichtyes                    chondro (cartilage) + ichtys (fish)

Holocephali                       holo (complete) + cephal (head)

Elasmobranchii                  elasmo (to strike) + branchi (gills)

Galea                                 galea (leather, helmet)

Squalea                              squalid

Batoidea                            bat (to strike) + ideo (class, species)

Osteichtyes                        osteo (bone) + ichtyes (fish)

Actinopterygii                    actin (ray) + pteryg (wing)

Polypteriformes                 poly (many + pter (wing) + form (shape)

Chondrostei                       chondro (cartliage) + osteo (bone)

Lepisosteiformes               lepido (scale) + osteo (bone) + form (shape)

Amiiformes                        ami (friend) + form (shape)

Halecostomi                      hal (the sea) + costo (coast)

Teleostei                            tele (far away) + osteo (bone)

Euteleostei                         eu (good, normal) + tele (far away) + osteo (bone)

Osteoglossomorpha           osteo (bone) + glosso (tongue) + morpha (shape)

Elopomorpha                     ellops (serpent) + morpha (shape)

Otocephala                        oto (ear) + cephal (head)

Sarcopterygii                     sarco (flesh) + pteryg (wing)

Tetrapoda                          tetra (four) + poda (feet)

Dipnoi                                di (two) + pneu (lung)

Coelacanthimorpha            coel (body cavity) + acantho (spiny) + morpha (shape)

Amphibia                           amphi (both) + bia (life)

Anura                                a (without) + ura (tail)

Caudata                             caudo (tail)

Apoda                               a (without) + poda (feet)

Reptilia                              reptil (creeping)

Anapsida                            ana (up) + apsid (shield)

Testudines                         testud (turtle)

Pleurodira                          pleuro (side)

Cryptodira                         crypto (hidden)

Diapsida                             di (two) + apsid (shield)

Ichtyosauria                       ichtyes (fish) + sauria (lizard)

Archosauria                       archaeo (ancient) + sauria (lizard)

Crocodylomorpha              cocodrillus (crocodile) + morpha (shape)

Pterosauria                        pter (wing) + sauria (lizard)

Dinosauria                         dino (terrible) + sauria (lizard)

Ornithischia                       ornitheos (of a bird) + ischion (hip)

Saurischia                          sauria (lizard) + ischion (hip)

Thyreophora                      θυρεος (shield) + φορεω (I carry) / phor (to carry)

Marginocephalia                marginus (edge) + cephal (head)

Ornithopoda                      ornis (bird) + poda (feet)

Sauropodomorpha             sauria (lizard) + poda (feet) + morpha (shape)

Theropoda                         thero (beast) + poda (feet)

Lepidosauromorpha           lepido (scale) + sauria (lizard) + morpha (shape)

Iguania                               iguana

Gekkota                             gekko

Amphisbaenia                    amphi (both) /  μφίς (both ways) + βαίνω (I go)

Serpentes                           serpent

Anguimorpha                     angui (serpent) +morpha (shape)

Scincomorpha                    skink + morpha (shape)

Mosasauria                        Mosa (ref. geography; Meuse river) + sauria (lizard)

Sauropterygia                    sauria (lizard) + pteryg (wing)

Sphenodontia                     spheno (wedge-shaped bone) + odonto (teeth)

Synapsida                          syn (with) +apsid (shield)

Pelycosauria                      pelyco (basin) + sauria (lizard)

Therapsida                         thero (beast) +apsid (shield)

Theriodonta                       thero (beast) + odonto (teeth)

Cynodontia                        cyno (dog) + odonto (teeth)

Mammalia                         mamm (breast)

Monotremata                    mono (one) + tream

Ornithorhyncidae              ornis (bird) + rhynco (snout, beak)

Tachyglossus                     tachy (fast) + glosso (tongue)

Zaglossus                          za (elder woman?) + glosso (tongue)

Marsupialia                       marsup (pouch)

Australidelphia                  austral (south) + delph (womb)

Ameridelphia                    America + delph (womb)

Didelphimorphia               di (two) + delph (womb) + morpha (shape)

Paucituberculata               paucus (little) + tuber (node)

Diprotodontia                   di (two) + prot (first) + odonto (teeth)

Vombatiformes                 wombat + form (shape)

Macropodiformes             macro (large) + poda (feet) + form (shape)

Phalangeriformes              phalang (bone between two joints of a finger/toe) + form (shape)

Dasyuromorphia               dasy (hairy) + uro (tail) + morpha (shape)

Peramelemorphia              per (through) + mel (honey) + morpha (shape)

Microbiotheria                  micro (small) + bio (life) + theria (animal)

Notoryctemorphia             noto (south, back)+ morpha (shape)

Placentalia                         placenta (flat cake)

Afrotheria                          Africa + theria (animal)

Xenarthra                          xeno (strange) + arthro (joint)

Boreoeutheria                   boreo (north) + eu (normal) + theria (animal)

Laurasiatheria                   Laurasia + theria (animal)

Euarchontoglires               eu (true) + archo (origin) + glires (mouse)

Tubulidentata                    tub (pipe) + denta (teeth)

Proboscidea                       pro (in front of) + bosci (to graze) + ideo (class, species)

Hyracoidea                        ύραξ (shrew) + ideo (class, species)

Sirenia                               Siren (ref. mythology; greek, seductress monster)

Macroscelida                     macro (large) + skelis (hind leg)

Tenrecoidea                      tenrec + ideo (class, species)

Cingulata                           cingere (encircle)

Pilosa                                 pilo (hair)

Folivora                             foli (leaf) + vora (eat)

Vermilingua                       vermi (worm) + lingua (tongue)

Lipotyphla                         lip (fat) + typhlos (blind)

Erinaceidae                       erinaceus (hedgehog)

Talpidae                            talpa (mole)

Soricidae                           sorex (shrew-mouse)

Solenodontidae                 solen (tube, pipe) + odonto (teeth)

Chiroptera                        chiro (hand) + pter (wing)

Microchiroptera                micro (small) + chiro (hand) + pter (wing)

Megachiroptera                mega (big) + chiro (hand) + pter (wing)

Cetacea                             ceti (whale) + acea (belonging to)

Arctiodactyla                     arct (northern) + dactyl (finger, toe)

Cetarctiodactyla                ceti (whale) + arct (northern) + dactyl (finger, toe)

Mysticeti                            myst (secret) + ceti (whale)

Odontoceti                        odonto (teeth) + ceti (whale)

Suiformes                          sus (swine) + form (shape)

Ruminantia                         ruminare (to chew the cud)

Tylopoda                           tylo (a knob) + poda (feet)

Camelini                            camel

Llamini                               llama

Bovidae                             bovo (cow)

Suidae                               sus (swine)

Hippopotamidae                hippos (horse) + potamus (river)

Tayassuidae                       tayassu (peccary) + sus (swine)

Tragulidae                         tragos (goat)

Moschidae                         moschos (a young bullock)

Cervidae                            cervus (deer)

Cervoidea                          cervus (deer) + ideo (class, species)

Antilocapridae                   antholops (horned animal) + capri (goat)

Giraffoidea                        giraffe + ideo (class, species)

Antilopinae                        antholops (horned animal)

Caprinae                            capri (goat)

Bovinae                              bovo (cow)

Perissodactyla                    perisso (odd-numbered) + dactyl (finger, toe)

Equidae                              equus (horse)

Tapiridae                            tapirus (tapir)

Rhinocerotidae                   rhin (nose) + cera (horn)

Pholidota                           pholis (scale) + oto (ear)

Carnivora                           carni (flesh, meat) + vora (eat)

Herpestidae                       herp (reptile) + pesti (plague)

Viverridae                          viverra (ferret)

Hyaenidae                         hyaena

Felidae                               felis (cat)

Mustelidae                         mustela (weasel)

Ursidae                              ursus (bear)

Canidae                             canis (dog)

Procyonidae                       pro (before) + cyon (dog); ref. preceding the ”dog star” Sirius

Ailuridae                            ailur (cat)

Pinnipedia                          pinna (fin) + pedi (feet)

Odobenidae                       odonto (teeth) + ben (good)

Otariidae                           oto (ear)

Phocidae                            phoca (seal)

Euarchonta                        eu (true) + archo (origin)

Primates                            primas (of the highest rank)

Catarrhini                          καταρρινα (hook-nosed) + καταρρέω (down-flowing) + ινες (nostrils)

Platyrrhini                          plat (flat) + rhin (nose)

Hominoidea                       homo (man)+ ideo (class, species)

Lagomorpha                      lagos (hare) + morpha (shape)

Leporidae                          lepus (hare)

Ochotonidae                      ochotona (pika), oto (ear)

Rodentia                            rodere (gnaw)

Anomaluromorpha             anomal (abnormal) + uro (tail) + morpha (shape)

Castorimorpha                   Castor (ref. mythology; Castor and Pollux, the gemini) + morpha (shape)

Hystricomorpha                 hystrix (porcupine) + morpha (shape)

Myomorpha                       myo (muscle; ref. mouse) + morpha (shape)

Sciuromorpha                    sciurus (squirrel) + morpha (shape)

Scandentia                         scandere (climb)

Dermoptera                       derm (skin) + pter (wing)

Lorisiformes                       lori + form (shape)

Lemuriformes                     lemur + form (shape)

Tarsiiformes                       tars (feet) + form (shape)

Cercopithecidae                 cerc (short tail) + pithecus (ape)

Homo                                 homo (man)