All about Scientific Names

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Please take a look at these common animals.

scientific name

If you were to name these animals you could use cat, dog, and frog.

If lived in Germany you would use Katze, Hund, Frosch

If you lived in Turkey you would use kedi, kopek, kurbaga

In order to avoid confusion when naming animals, plants, fungi, and all other organisms, a scientific name can be used.

This system is called "binomial nomenclature." These names are important because they allow people throughout the world to communicate effectively. Scientists use international rules to name organisms. These naming rules mean that every scientific name is unique.

Scientific names are also designed to tell you something about the organism's relationships with other organisms.

Let’s dissect a scientific name using a common house cat.

cat Felix domesticus

Felis domesticus

A house cat has the scientific name,  

Felis = Genus

domesticus = species

The first part describes the genus that a cat belongs to. 

A scientific name is always capitalized and italicized, and if it is written it is capitalized.

All species that are thought to be most closely related, are placed together in a genus.

The levels of classification moving from broadest to most specific are Domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. 

levels classification

The second part of a Scientific name is the species, and it is always lower case.

Next, let’s take a look at the Scientific name for a dog.

dog scientific name

A dog  Canis lupus familiaris

Genus = Canis 

Species = lupus familiaris

How about this frog.  There are over 5000 types of frogs so the scientific name tells you exactly which one you are talking about.

The scientific name for this frog is,


Rana temporaria

Genus = Rana

temporaria =  species

The scientific name of common animals

Cow = Bos taurus
Buffalo = Bubalus bubalis
Wolf = Canis lupus
Horse = Equus ceballus
Great white shark = Carcharodon carcharias
Tiger = Panthera tigris


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