Use Of Latin Scientific Names


Let us use the scientific names instead of vernacular ones...

We can take advantage of a fantastic invention of Carl Line from the 18th century which is called Binomic Nomenclature and which has very practical strict rules so that one species has rigorously assigned one name only thus to identify the species and the name without any doubt and confusion is easy. The binomic nomenclature uses strictly latin language, so either it works with original latin expressions or the names derived from other languages are latinized (based on clear rules derived from latin grammar and some additional habits). The binomic ephitet consists always of two names, one is the genus name to which the species is assigned to and is starting wit a capital letter and species name written with small letters. Usually, italic font is used for the scientific names.
Trioceros deremensis
If the name consists of three names, e.g.
Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus
Then the third name refers to the subspecies.
This all is the shortened practical version of the scientific names.
The full scientific name consists of 4 elements
1. Genus name (italic) sometimes, But not obligatorily and only when it applies, can be followed by a Subgenus name in parentheses
2. Species (plus sometimes subspecies name)(italic)
3. Family name(s) of the author(s) of the description (capitals) separated by comma "," except of the two last ones, separated by "&" (Capitals)
4. Year of the description
Sometimes, the points 3 and 4 are in parentheses. If It is the case, then it indicates, the original species or subspecies description was done within another Genus name than given now.
Kinyongia matschiei (WERNER, 1895)

The names usually reflect some features or aspects that relate to the species, such as:
Typical color (e.g. Rhampholeon viridis: viridis means green)
Typical feature (e.g. Trioceros quadricornis: quadricornis means four-horned)
Inhabited region (Trioceros marsabitensis: marsabitensis is derived from Mt. Marsabit)
Local name (Trioceros narraioca: natraioca is the name for the chameleon in Samburu language)
Similarity to something (Chamaeleon monachus: monachus means like a monk referring to the large occipital flaps resembling monk´s hood)
Discoverer's name (Trioceros hoehnelii: the discoverer was Ludwig von Höhnel)
And the species can be also named in honor of someone (Kinyongia boehmei was named in honor of German herpetologist, Dr. Wolfgang Böhme)
It is upto the description author's discretion to choose an appropriate name, it must be latinized and must not be just a random meaningless selection of letters nor an abbreviation.

I strongly advise not to use the vernacular names because they're heavily misleading...
The "elephant ear chameleon" name can be used in English at least for 6 species
Calumma brevicorne (Madagascar)
Calumma crypticum (Madagascar)
Calumma malthe (Madagascar)
Calumma cucullatum (Madagascar)
Trioceros melleri (E Africa)
Chamaeleo monachus (Socotra).

Who has a clue what we talk about? No one.

There are no rules about naming species the trivial names. Everyone can call it as he/she wants. It is just the common understanding and habit whether people accept and use it further or not, but no obligation at all. If you decide today to call the Yemen (Veiled) Chameleon a Tripple-Yellow-Crossbar Chameleon or Petr's Honey Chameleon, you can do it freely and except of people probably not understanding what species you mean, no one can officially object, as there is NO rule for that.

In some other reptile taxa it is even more confusing... E.g. grass snake... Almost every continent has one... and they are totally different from each other, even different genera, some harmless, some venomous... (Natrix natrix and Natrix helvetica in Europe, Opheodrys vernalis or Opheodrys aestivus in N America, Psammophis mossambicus or Psammophis crucifer in S Africa, Psammophylax tritaeniatus in E equatorial Africa, Dendrelaphis punctullata in Australia...)

Let us use the Latin binomic nomenclature and we have no issue at all. To
get used to it is easy...

And, please, add the name of species you refer to in your post always, in most of the questions, it is very important to know what species exactly we are talking about, as they differ from each other substantially in many aspects...

Author: Petr Nečas