A look at the four functions of scientific names: Deciphering the types of organisms (2023)

Those confusing names of animals and plants

When scientists or life science experts get together, they'll start mentioning these two-word names that sound like they're straight out of an old nursery rhyme or a Dr. Dulce book. The average person on the street simply refers to the animal by a common name.

The problem with this, however, is that two scientists from opposite ends of the earth cannot use these common names. The problem is that a creature can have the same name in different parts of the world and be completely different. This also provides uniqueness to the two word system or binomial nomenclature as known in the art. There are also four basic functions of scientific names.

What is binomial nomenclature?

The easiest way to describe the scientific nomenclature of a species is that it is unique. No other species can have the same name. This refers to all species that have ever lived or still live on planet Earth. Even fossils are given a scientific name to define exactly what particular species it is. This allows one scientist to talk to another scientist and both know exactly which organism they are talking about. This helps scientists to clarify the specific characteristics of each species when studying them.

The correct term is binomial nomenclature. The scientific name includes the genus and species of each living being. This is the first and last name of the series. To simplify, it is enough to remember that the proper name is the generic epithet, referring to animals common to each other, but of a different species. The second epithet is the name of the species itself.

the four functions

There are many different reasons for using binomial nomenclature or scientific names, but most scientists and researchers agree that there are four main reasons. All this was thought to simplify and facilitate the categorization of living organisms. As mentioned above, this is done with all organisms, regardless of their condition.

1. Stability

The first is that the system is stable. The system can be supplemented, but because the original form has been around for so long, it is the universal language used to classify organisms around the world. This allows zoologists and scientists to assign a newly discovered organism to a related species or create a new species if necessary.

2. Clarity

The second function is clarity. This is another reason why the scientific name is used. As noted in the article, organisms can have the same common name even though they are different species. This helps clarify the nomenclature system for scholarly papers. This allows researchers to know exactly which organism is involved and eliminates misunderstandings or errors when evaluating the organism.

3. Uniqueness

The third function is the uniqueness of the name for that particular organism. This allows a scientist to give an organism a specific name just for that particular species. There can be no other organism with that name in the universe. It also makes it easier for scientists to carry out research and discoveries. You only need to know these two names to identify the organism. There is no common name that causes confusion in identification.

4. Simplicity

The fourth characteristic is simplicity. Since you only need to memorize two very specific words about an organism, this makes memorization easier. The original classification system used multiple names, which led to confusion. Using just two words to identify the organism reduces the amount of work required to figure out what it is in the first place.

history and origin

A look at the four functions of scientific names: Deciphering the types of organisms (1)

The system was originally developed by the Swedish scientist Carl von Linne. He is better known by his Latin name Linnaeus. He lived from 1707 to 1778. His worknature systemwhich was published in 1758 began to use binomial nomenclature.

It was the common name, or the second part of the naming system, that created the unique name for each species. He originally intended to use a single Latin name for each species, but he found it confusing early on in his studies.

Using this new system, the scientists found these names to be more meaningful than local names and also captured less ambiguous nomenclature.

gender or name

For this example, we will use a very common freshwater aquarium fish. You may be familiar with one of the many species of molly available in pet stores across the United States. They all have the same first scientific name. They are known as Poecilia. This is the generic name for this particular fish species.

They are typically 2 to 4 inches long, come in a variety of colors, and are native to Central America. They all lead a young life. These are their common characteristics. These are just some of the basic similarities between the various species of molly that make up their genus.

The species or second name

The species name is the name that follows the genus in the identification system. This distinguishes this specific creature from its related genus/family. Going back to our study of mollies, we can begin to understand the small geographical or physical differences between the fish.

for example the namePoecilia VelaferaIt is native to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and has a large dorsal fin and a greyish-green color. In contrast, another species of Molly, thepoecilia butler, are native to Central America, have orange spots on their bodies, and can reach four inches in length. As similar as these two species are, they are differentiated simply by regional differences and color differences. However, both are sold in pet stores as is.sail finDe Molly.

The value of this system.

The key to using the scientific name is to give the student or scientist more clarity and uniqueness to each individual species. Scientists and students can describe very specific, if not minute, differences between living things of the same species. As you saw with Mollys, it only takes a small geographic or physical difference for an organism to become specialized. That is what makes this book of names so important.

types of names

When the process was originally created, it was intended to remain in the Latin language. However, over time this changed. Generally, the first name or gender is Latin. However, it can also be Greek or another language, but it must be able to be addressed in the Latin singular. It must also be unique to that kingdom or group of organisms. Many extinct animals have relatives who are descendants and also share the same name.

Species name descendant of an organism

A look at the four functions of scientific names: Deciphering the types of organisms (2)

The use and function of scientific nomenclature is not limited to the designation of genus and species. Above this are different hierarchical designations.

Above is theFamilyan organism. This is a larger network that describes many organisms with similar characteristics.

Above the family is thedomainof the organism, which summarizes even larger groups of organisms that share similar characteristics but very large differences.

Classroomit is order upon order and is very general in terminology, encompassing animals with few similar characteristics. Mammalia is one such class and includes all mammals because they give birth (babies), produce milk, and have hair. As you know, whales and monkeys are mammals, but very different.

above is the classStammdistinguishes organisms in 40 different phyla. These differences between the tribes are very pronounced. Plants are divided into twelve phyla.

KingdomIt is the next ratification system and consists of six different categories; Animalia, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista, Fungi and Plantaea.

Above is theDomain. This is a two part division between eukaryotes and prokaryotes. These are separated at the cellular level into nucleated and non-nucleated eukaryotes.

I hope this information clears up any confusion or misconceptions about the scientific classification of living things and the special names that define them.


  • Sherborn, Charles Davis. "A record of the generic and common names of the animals described by Linnaeus in the 10th and 12th editions of his Systema naturae". Nabu Press, 2010.
  • Mader, Silvia. "Biology".McGrawHill, 2009.
  • Photo:Statue of LinnaeusBy Matt From London/Fotopedia under CC by 2.0.
  • Jennings, Greg. „500 freshwater fish: a visual reference to the most popular species”.Firefly Books, 2006
  • Huxley, Thomas Henry. „To study zoology. Libros FQ, 2010.
  • Photo:Biological classification system, Peter Halasz/Wikimedia Commons
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