Scientific Names of Animals

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Created by: Team Biology at, Last Updated: April 28, 2024

Scientific Names of Animals

Embark on an enlightening journey into the world of zoology with our comprehensive guide to the scientific names of animals. Unveiling the intricacies of animal taxonomy, this guide is your key to understanding the fascinating classification system that connects all creatures great and small. From the majestic Panthera leo (lion) to the delicate Danaus plexippus (monarch butterfly), our examples illuminate the beauty and diversity of wildlife. Perfect for students, researchers, and nature enthusiasts alike, delve into the precision of scientific nomenclature and discover the stories behind the names of Earth’s astonishing fauna.

What is Nomenclature?

Animal nomenclature

Nomenclature is a systematic method for naming organisms, substances, anatomical parts, and other items in science and other fields, ensuring clarity and precision in communication. Originating from the Latin words “nomen” (name) and “calare” (to call), it serves as a universal language that transcends regional and linguistic barriers, allowing for consistent and unambiguous identification across the globe.

How to write Scientific Names Correctly?


Writing scientific names correctly is crucial for maintaining clarity and consistency in scientific communication. Here are the guidelines to follow when writing scientific names, based on the binomial nomenclature system developed by Carl Linnaeus:

1. Italicize the Entire Name

The entire scientific name should be italicized when typed. This distinguishes it from the rest of the text. If handwritten, underline the name instead.

2. Capitalize the Genus Name

The first part of the scientific name, the genus name, is always capitalized. This follows the convention of proper nouns in Latin.

3. Lowercase the Species Descriptor

The second part of the scientific name, often called the species name or specific epithet, is always written in lowercase. This part of the name often describes a characteristic of the organism, commemorates a person, or indicates a geographical location.

4. Do Not Capitalize or Italicize the Rank

If you include the taxonomic rank (e.g., species, genus) in your writing, do not capitalize or italicize these terms. They are considered common nouns.

5. Abbreviate the Genus Name After First Mention

Once you have written the full scientific name (e.g., Homo sapiens), you can abbreviate the genus name to its initial letter if you mention the species again (e.g., H. sapiens). Ensure that the initial is capitalized and followed by a period.

6. Use the Full Name in Titles and at the Beginning of Sentences

If a scientific name appears in a title or at the beginning of a sentence, use the full name, even if it has been abbreviated previously in the text.

7. Authority Name

Sometimes, particularly in scientific texts, the name of the person who first described the species is added in abbreviated form after the species name. The authority name is not italicized. For example, the full scientific name for the European honey bee could be written as Apis mellifera L., where “L.” stands for Linnaeus, who was the first to describe the species.

Binomial Nomenclature in Scientific Names of Animals



List of Scientific Names of Animals



Common Name Scientific Name
African Elephant Loxodonta africana
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus
Dodo Bird Raphus cucullatus
Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri
Fennec Fox Vulpes zerda
Giant Panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
Indian Cobra Naja naja
Jaguar Panthera onca
Koala Phascolarctos cinereus
Lion Panthera leo
Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus
Narwhal Monodon monoceros
Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus
Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Quokka Setonix brachyurus
Red Panda Ailurus fulgens
Snow Leopard Panthera uncia
Tasmanian Devil Sarcophilus harrisii
Ulysses Butterfly Papilio ulysses
Vampire Bat Desmodus rotundus
Walrus Odobenus rosmarus
Xenopus Frog Xenopus laevis
Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes
Zebra Equus quagga
Arctic Fox Vulpes lagopus
Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus
Coral Snake Micrurus fulvius
Duck-billed Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus
Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Gorilla Gorilla beringei
Hammerhead Shark Sphyrna mokarran
Iguana Iguana iguana
Jackrabbit Lepus californicus
Komodo Dragon Varanus komodoensis
Lemur Lemur catta
Manatee Trichechus manatus
Numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus
Ocelot Leopardus pardalis
Puffin Fratercula arctica
Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
Rattlesnake Crotalus spp.
Sloth Bradypus variegatus
Tiger Panthera tigris
Umbrellabird Cephalopterus ornatus
Vervet Monkey Chlorocebus pygerythrus
Wolverine Gulo gulo
Yellowfin Tuna Thunnus albacares
Zebrafish Danio rerio
Albatross Diomedea exulans
Bison Bison bison
Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Dugong Dugong dugon
Electric Eel Electrophorus electricus
Falcon Falco peregrinus
Gibbon Hylobates lar
Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja
Impala Aepyceros melampus
Jackal Canis aureus
Kinkajou Potos flavus
Lynx Lynx lynx
Mongoose Herpestes javanicus
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Octopus Octopus vulgaris
Pangolin Manis temminckii
Quoll Dasyurus viverrinus
Rhinoceros Rhinocerotidae spp.
Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas
Toucan Ramphastos toco

Uses of Scientific Names of Animals

The use of scientific names for animals serves several crucial purposes in the fields of biology, conservation, education, and research. Here are some of the key reasons why scientific names are important:

1. Universal Communication

Scientific names provide a universal language for scientists and researchers around the world. This standardized naming system ensures that regardless of linguistic and geographical differences, everyone can accurately identify and discuss specific animals without confusion.

2. Avoids Ambiguity

Common names can vary widely from one region to another and can even refer to multiple species. Scientific names eliminate this ambiguity by giving each species a unique, globally recognized name.

3. Classification and Evolutionary Relationships

Scientific names reflect the taxonomic classification of animals, indicating their evolutionary relationships. This hierarchical system, from kingdom down to species, helps scientists understand the biological connections and distinctions among different groups of animals.

4. Conservation Efforts

In conservation biology, scientific names are essential for identifying species at risk of extinction, tracking biodiversity, and implementing conservation strategies. Accurate identification is crucial for legal protection, habitat preservation, and the management of endangered species.

5. Research and Study

For researchers studying specific traits, behaviors, or genetic information of animals, scientific names are vital for ensuring that their work is based on the correct species. This precision is critical for the validity and reproducibility of scientific research.

6. Educational Purposes

In education, teaching the scientific names of animals helps students learn about the diversity of life and the principles of taxonomy. It encourages a deeper understanding of the natural world and the importance of biodiversity.

7. International Trade and Regulation

Scientific names are used in the regulation of international trade in wildlife and wildlife products. They are crucial for enforcing laws and treaties that protect endangered species, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

8. Historical Context

Scientific names often contain information about the discovery of a species or honor the scientists who discovered them. This historical context enriches our understanding of the history of science and the exploration of the natural world

FAQ of Scientific Names of Animals ?

1. What is a scientific name?

A scientific name, also known as a binomial nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of organisms by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, though they can be based on words from other languages. These names are standardized and used globally to avoid confusion that can arise from common names.

2. Why do animals have scientific names?

Scientific names are used to provide a unique and universal identifier for each species, ensuring that scientists across different regions and languages can accurately identify and discuss organisms without confusion. This system helps in organizing and categorizing the vast diversity of life on Earth.

3. How are scientific names assigned to animals?

Scientific names are assigned based on the rules of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). A name is chosen based on priority (the earliest name given is the correct one), the organism’s characteristics, and sometimes, the discoverer. It includes a genus name (capitalized) and a species name (lowercase), both italicized.

4. Can the scientific name of an animal change?

Yes, the scientific name of an animal can change due to new discoveries and advancements in genetic and evolutionary research. As scientists learn more about the relationships between species, reclassification can occur, leading to changes in names to better reflect these relationships.

5. What is the importance of using scientific names?

Using scientific names allows for precise communication among scientists and helps avoid the ambiguity that common names can cause. It facilitates research, identification, and discussion of species without confusion, regardless of language barriers, and helps standardize the classification of organisms.

6. How do I correctly write or cite a scientific name?

A scientific name is written in italics, with the genus name capitalized and the species name in lowercase, e.g., Panthera leo for the lion. When handwritten, the names should be underlined. If the scientific name is mentioned multiple times in a document, the genus name can be abbreviated to its first letter after the first full mention, e.g., P. leo.

7. What is the difference between common names and scientific names?

Common names are the everyday terms used by people within various languages and cultures to refer to an organism, which can lead to confusion and misidentification due to their lack of standardization. Scientific names, however, are universally accepted and standardized names that avoid such confusion.

8. Are there scientific names for all animals?

While there are scientific names for a vast majority of known animals, new species are being discovered regularly, and some may await description and naming. The process of identifying and naming new species is ongoing, contributing to the ever-expanding catalog of life on Earth.

9. Can two animals have the same scientific name?

No, according to the rules of nomenclature, each species must have a unique scientific name. However, synonyms (different names for the same species based on separate discoveries) can exist until one valid name is agreed upon based on the principle of priority.

10. Who decides on the scientific names of animals?

Scientific names are decided by taxonomists who study the classification and naming of organisms. The process is governed by the ICZN, which sets the rules and standards for animal nomenclature. New names are typically published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and are accepted once they meet the criteria set by the ICZN.

In conclusion, the correct use of scientific names for animals is fundamental to the fields of biology, conservation, and education. These names ensure precise communication across languages and cultures, reflect the evolutionary relationships among species, and support global efforts in biodiversity conservation. Embracing this universal naming system enhances our understanding and appreciation of the rich diversity of life on Earth.

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List of Scientific Names of Animals