Etymology: Interesting Translations
Aegrotocatellus Adrian and Edgecombe, 1995 (trilobite)
Latin for "sick puppy".
Agathidium akallebregma Miller & Wheeler,
2005 (slime mold beetle) The specific name is Greek for "ugly
Allobates niputidea Grant et al., 2007
(frog) In their paper describing the frog, the authors explain the
specific epithet as "the name commonly applied by Colombian
herpetologists to this and other small, brown frogs of unknown
identity." What they do not say is that the word is actually a
colloquial Spanish phrase, "ni puta idea", meaning, "[I have] no
fucking idea." [Copeia 4: 844]
Aquilegia (columbine) Aquilegia
derives from aquila, Latin for "eagle", because the shape of
the flower petals resembles an eagle's claw. The common name
"columbine", on the other hand, derives from columba, Latin for
"pigeon", because those same petals were fancied to resemble five
pigeons. Thus the same flower is named after eagle and dove
Ascolepis erythrocephala Hooper, 1983
(African sedge) Named both for the discoverer Edgar Milne-Redhead, and
for the plant's red flower head.
Astraptes obstupefactus Brower, 2010
(skipper) "The name obstupefactus means 'thunder- struck'. This
name seems appropriate for a sibling species of A. fulgerator,
whose name means 'a priest who interprets omens from lightning'."
[Systematics and Biodiversity 8: 487]
Attalea vitrivir Zona (palm) honors palm
specialist Sydney Glassman (1919-2008). Attalea glassmanii
was already in use, so vitri = glass and vir = man.
Atychodracon (Stutchbury, 1846)
(Triassic-Jurassic pliosaur) The name means "unfortunate dragon". The
original fossil was destroyed by WWII bombing; the revised genus
(originally it was described as a species of Plesiosaurus) is
based on casts, photos, and additional specimens.
Bellibos Haugsness & Hessler, 1979
(isopod) "Pretty bull"
Boselaphus tragocamelus (Pallas) (nilgai, an Indian
antelope) This translates to "ox-deer goat-camel"
Brachyanax thelestrephones Evenhuis, 1981 (fly) The name
translates from Greek to "little chief nipple twister".
Brontomerus Taylor, Wedel and Cifelli, 2011
(early Cretaceous sauropod) name means "thunder thigh"; its fossils
were fragmentary but showed that the dinosaur had powerful
Buffalopterus (1962) (eurypterid)
Literally, "buffalo wing"; it was named two years before the invention
of the chicken buffalo wings.
Catocala (red underwing moths) Many species
in this genus are named after brides, fiancees, prostitutes, and
Catocala nupta (Linnaeus, 1767) - nupta =
C. promissa (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775) -
promissus = "promised; pledged in marriage";
C. elocata (Esper, 1788) - elocata =
"one hired out; a prostitute";
C. nymphagoga (Esper, 1788) - nymphagoga =
"one who leads the bride from her home to the bridegroom's house";
C. electa (Vieweg, 1790) - electa = "fiancee";
C. pronuba - pronuba = "matron
attending a bride";
C. pronubella ;
C. pronubana ;
C. comes - comes = "companion";
C. villica - villica = "wife of a steward";
C. ancilla - ancilla = "servant".
Chaetopterus pugaporcinus Osborn, 2007
(Deep sea marine worm) translates as "Chaetopterid worm that looks
like the rump of a pig."
Colepiocephale Sullivan, 2003 (pachycephalosaurid
dinosaur) The name translates to "knucklehead."
Csiromedusa medeopolis (jellyfish) Its
epithet is Greek for "city of gonads."
Dziwneono etcetera Dworakowska, 1972
(leafhopper) "Dziwneono" is Polish for "it is strange."
Egretta egrettoides Bonap. (egret)
Literally, "egret that looks like an egret."
Ekrixinatosaurus Calvo, Rubilar-Rogers &
Moreno, 2004 (Cretaceous theropod) "Explosion-born lizard", so
called because its bones were discovered during construction-related
Enypniastes Théel, 1882 (deep-sea
sea cucumber) The name means "dreamer" and is the same word from
Genesis 37:19 of the Septuagint: "... Behold, that dreamer comes"
(referring to Joseph).
Eucritta melanolimnetes Clack, 1998 (fossil amphibian)
Loosely translates as "Creature from the black lagoon" [Nature
Fratercula (puffin). The name probably
refers to the puffin's plumage, which looks something like a monastic
robe; fraterculus means "small brother". However,
fratercula is a feminine form, so the name literally means "small
(female) brother". Don't ask me why.
Haimacystis Sumrall, Sprinkle, and Guensburg,
2001 (fossil crinoid) Etymology: "Haimacystis is a compound of
the Greek haima, flowing blood, and cystis, sac, referring to the
blood dripping from superficial leg wounds suffered by one of the
co-authors when the biggest slab of specimens described herein toppled
over and almost crushed him." [J. of Paleo. 75:
Halorubrum chaoviator (bacterium) The
specific name means "traveller of the void", referring to the
bacterium's survival after being exposed in outer space during a space
Halticosaurus von Huene 1908 (Late Triassic
theropod) translates to "leaping lizard!"
Homo diluvii testis Scheuchzer, 1726
translates "Man, a witness to the Flood" because it was thought at the
time to be the remains of a man drowned in Noah's Flood. Later it was
found to be a fossil salamander and renamed Andrias
scheuchzeri. Andrias means "man-image", a relic of the
Iris innominata L. Henderson (iris)
Translated, this iris's name is "unnamed iris."
Lycoperdon (puffball) Literally, "wolf-fart". The
meaning occurs also in its common names in French
(vesse-de-loup) and Spanish (pedos de lobo).
Mabuya perrotetti (Dumeril and Bibron)
(skink) "Perrotetti" means "small-breasted dog." There is also
Radula perrotetti (liverwort) and
Pomadasys peroteti (Cuvier, 1830) (a fish,
the parrot grunt).
Megapnosaurus Ivie, Slipinski & Wegrzynowiwicz, 2001
(theropod dinosaur) Translates as "big dead lizard." (The original name
for this genus, Syntarsus
, was previously taken by a small living
beetle. There is some controversy
because this genus was renamed by entomologist Mike Ivie after he was
unable to reach Raath, who described the dinosaur
Mexicope sushara Bruce, 2004 (isopoda) "The
epithet combines the Latin words sus (pig) and hara
(pen, coop or sty) and alludes to the ability of these preserved
specimens to collect adherent detritus; referring to the character
'Pigpen' in the famous comic strip Peanuts, who gathered dirt no
Moorochloa Veldk. 2004 (grass) Dedicated to
the Committee of Botanical Nomenclature on Spermatophytes, which
refused to conserve the traditionally well-known name
Brachiaria Trin., once with about 120 spp worldwide, suggesting
instead that a new genus should be described. The name translates as
"fool grass." [Reinwardtia 12: 138]
Osedax mucofloris Glover et al., 2005
(polychaete worm) "Bone-eating snot flower"; it lives in the skeletons
of dead whales.
Osteocephalus (slender-legged tree frog)
Piseinotecus divae Er. Marcus, 1955 (gastropod)
"Piseinotecus" means "I stepped on Teco." Teco was a dog belonging to a
diva (or to Prof. Diva Corrêa). One of the Marcuses (Evelyne or
Ernst) stepped on the dog on the way to the kitchen in the middle of the
Pulchrapollia Dyke & Cooper, 2000 (Lower Eocene parrot)
Translates to "Pretty Polly".
Sibon noalamina Lotzkat et al., 2012 (snake)
From no a la mina!, Spanish for "mining? No way!". "This
affirmation was and is used by members of the indigenous Ngöbe
communities . . . in the course of their protests against mining
interests aiming to exploit their territory, especially around Cerro
Colorado. The specific name is given in recognition and support of
the Ngöbe's struggle to protect their territory and environment
. . . from profit-driven destructive interventions." [Zootaxa
Suuwassea Harris & Dodson, 2004
(sauropod dinosaur) From Crow meaning "first thunder heard in spring,"
from suu, "thunder" and wassea, "ancient".
Vampyroteuthis infernalis Chun, 1903 (squid relative)
"Vampire squid from Hell".
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