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Whatís In A Name?


Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, January 8, 2001

While it may not have mattered much to Romeoís Juliet, names are of paramount importance to those working in the biological sciences. Naturally, in the absence of names a discussion on virtually any topic would prove at best chaotic if not downright impossible. This is especially true of both animals and plants, whose true identity must somehow be accurately communicated to others with an interest in these species.

Problem is, zoology and botany are both global sciences, with those working in these fields coming from many different countries and ethnic backgrounds. This in turn means that individual zoologists and botanists may be fluent in only one of the worldís many languages. At the same time, however, zoologists and botanists worldwide have a need to know of other papers, books and reports relevant to their research regardless of the language of these publications.

Obviously, some "universally" understood method of naming animals and plants is vital if such an exchange of information is to be achieved. Biologists have accomplished this goal by utilizing a system of binomial nomenclature (literally "two names") first developed by Karl von Linnť, a Swede, back in 1737. In this classification system each individual animal and plant is assigned a combination of two separate names that together serve, in theory at least, to uniquely identify the species. Thus mankind, an animal we all should be familiar with, is known to science as Homo sapiens.

The first of these two names is known as the "Genus," which basically translates as "group" or "general type." In other words, the genus or generic name may be applied to more than one species but each of these species will be closely related to one another. Returning again to the previously used example of humans, the genus Homo not only includes modern man but now extinct forms such as Java Man, Homo erectus, and Neanderthal Man, Homo neanderthalensis, as well.

As can be seen in the above examples, it is the second name in combination with the first that firmly establishes the identity of each species. While Homo encompasses all living and extinct species of humans, Homo sapiens applies to modern man alone. The second name cannot properly be called "specific," however, as that term must be reserved for the entire binomial, so it is instead known as the trivial name to scientists.

In order for this system of naming organisms to function prope .....
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Fillmore County Pork Producers
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Escape from America

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Cast Iron Epidemic

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 29, 2001

I decided that it was time to change oil in both of our vehicles last Sunday. I drafted our sixteen-year-old son, Matt, to help. I thought it was a good opportunity for Matt to profit from some of my long experience an ..... 
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Chicken Run

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 22, 2000

ďItís hard being brave when youíre a chicken.Ē
~from the movie Chicken Run

I am not much of a golfer. I rationalize my poor scores with the notion that I am involved in too many other activities to dev ..... 
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 29, 2001

Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
Posted in

To the Editor,

I read John Torgrimsonís article about the runaway chicken (January 22, 2001 Journal) with amusement, but the first recounting of this story one Saturday evening last fall was the best. John told us the story, complete wi ..... 
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