Dec 11, 2010

Scientific Names

There are many times where you might need to know or write down the scientific name of a plant or an animal. Scientific names allow us to talk about species with a greater degree of accuracy than if we were to just use the common name. Many plants and animals have a more than one common name and so using the correct scientific terms makes talking about plant and animal species less ambiguous.

The scientific name of a species is made up of a combination of two special terms The first name is the genus of the organism and is capitalised, while the second is the species which is not capitalised. Below I will show you the conventions used when writing down a scientific name correctly.

Genus name
The genus name of a species is always written first and it is also underlined (in written) or italicised (only when using computers). Another point to note is that the first letter of the genus name is always capitalised.

  • in the STPM if students write in italic the scientific names, you'll get 0 mark
  • students must underline separately; don't underline the whole thing
Species name
The species name of an organism is written second and the specific epithet is always underlined (in written) or italicised (using computers).

Example of a correct scientific names :

Homo sapiens for human

Oryza sativa for paddy

Nephelium lappaceum for rambutan

Once you get to understand the convention then you will find that learning the correct scientific name for a plant or animal is not that hard. By learning the correct scientific names for a plant or animal you will be able to communicate with other scientists around the world unambiguously.

Kingdom     : Animalia
Phylum        : Chordata
Class           : Mammalia
Order          : Primates
Family         : Hominidae
Genus         : Homo
Species       : sapiens