PDA

View Full Version : "Official" common names, more useful than scientific names!



gambite
11-18-2009, 03:27 PM
In doing research for some related schoolwork, I found this interesting article on the common names of tarantulas.

http://www.americanarachnology.org/acn5.pdf

"Arthropod scientific names follow a strict set of rules adopted by the International Commission
on Zoological Nomenclature, and published in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
The intent of the code is to encourage stability, accuracy, and universality of an organismís
scientific name (Bosik 1997). However, scientific names do change for reasons including priority,
improper use of Latin, misidentification, and many other causes. Common names have been
demostrated as more stable than scientific names. In a few cases, the scientific name for species
has changed multiple times in a relatively short period of time, while the common name for the
actual organism was never altered."

"Many arachnologists believe that the
scientific name itself is sufficient. This is suitable for trained scientists, however, arachnologists
dealing with the public may rapidly discover the relative value of a common name. Should they
attempt to encourage the use of, for example, Achaearanea tepidariorum (C. L. Koch), instead of
using the term common house spider, perhaps the most frequently encountered spider in the United
States, their opinions may quickly change. Most workers in public extension services, especially
those dealing with agriculture, appreciate having standardized arthropod common names available."

A very interesting read! I dont know much about the organization behind it though, how "official" and authoritative are these names? I definitely see their point, though. It is very confusing to see Brachypelma smithi referred to as Euthalus smithi, and I am still not sure exactly what the "official" scientific name for the Singapore Blue or Tiger Rump are.

hellraizor
11-18-2009, 03:35 PM
Cyriopagopus sp. "Blue" (Singapore Blue) and which Tiger Rump are you referring to? Cyclosternum fasciatum, Cyriocosmus elegans..? This my friend, is why scientific names are better used than common names. If a scientific name is being changed, my best recommendation is to keep up.

Bill S
11-18-2009, 03:50 PM
Basically, the article is aimed at "dumbing it down" for the general public. It isn't saying that there's anything more accurate about using approved common names, just hinting that "common folk" are too dumb to be able to grasp scientific names.

I guess the truth of this may lie within the audience you are dealing with.

Kirk
11-18-2009, 03:52 PM
If you want to maximize accuracy and consistency of communication, then scientific names are to be preferred. But, as formal scientific names are placeholders for our hypotheses referring to organisms, and science is not about establishing immutable understanding, scientific names have, do, and will continue to change. There's no way to avoid that - it's the nature of doing science.

jayefbe
11-18-2009, 04:10 PM
Basically, the article is aimed at "dumbing it down" for the general public. It isn't saying that there's anything more accurate about using approved common names, just hinting that "common folk" are too dumb to be able to grasp scientific names.

I guess the truth of this may lie within the audience you are dealing with.

Yup, those quotes mention dealing with the "public" more than once. It's basically saying it's easier to communicate with a layperson without the big clunky latin names. Which is true. If I'm showing my friends my T's, I might use common names. Without any research into tarantulas something like "pinktoe" or "orange baboon tarantula" will still evoke a visual image. Pterinochilus murinus will mean nothing to them.

If, on the other hand, I'm dealing with anyone that knows anything about tarantulas I will only use scientific names. While these names do change occasionally, they do have some benefits. There is always only one correct scientific name for a species at any given time, one scientific name can't be applied to two different species (at least not intentionally), and there is a phylogenetic history associated with each name. Everyone automatically knows that Pterinochilus murinus and Pterinochilus chordatus are closely related to each other. Further research, and we know that the genus Pterinochilus is part of the subfamily Harpactirinae, and so are closely related to the Augacephalus genus. This information is buried within each scientific name, something that common names lack.

It's funny, I study plants and know the scientific names for a LOT of plant groups, but very few common names. If I'm talking to an avid gardener, it's difficult to communicate since I only pay attention to scientific names while they usually only know common names.

gambite
11-18-2009, 04:20 PM
Cyriopagopus sp. "Blue" (Singapore Blue) and which Tiger Rump are you referring to? Cyclosternum fasciatum, Cyriocosmus elegans..? This my friend, is why scientific names are better used than common names. If a scientific name is being changed, my best recommendation is to keep up.

When I first started keeping, that was indeed the name used for Singapore Blue, but more recently I have heard that it has been changed to Lapropelma something. Or do I have it backwards? And I was referring to Cyclosternum fasciatum, but I have also heard some say that it has been reclassified as Davus fasciatum. Which is it?

Bill, that is a pretty egotistical view. Common people know little about tarantulas, and not everyone has a science background. Why should anyone expect them to understand a concept that is completely foreign to them?

Remember, this is a pet keeping forum, not a scientific community. Treating people like idiots just because they dont speak your language is pretty rude, both on the internet and in day-to-day life. And I am not talking about just you, Bill. This attitude is pretty widespread.

jayefbe
11-18-2009, 04:39 PM
Remember, this is a pet keeping forum, not a scientific community. Treating people like idiots just because they dont speak your language is pretty rude, both on the internet and in day-to-day life. And I am not talking about just you, Bill. This attitude is pretty widespread.

Regardless of what type of forum this is, using common names for tarantulas is simply infeasible. I'm not saying this because I'm egotistical, or because I look down on those that don't know scientific names. I'm saying this because there are thousands of tarantula species and there are only so many 'bird eater' or 'baboon tarantula' or 'pinktoe' descriptions before you start getting repetitive. If I call something a 'white-knee bird eater', what am I talking about? You don't know, I don't know. Simply put, if anyone wants to get into this hobby seriously, they need to learn scientific names. It's not some type of initiation, or a way to appear smarter than everyone else. It's simply a necessity.

Yes, there are issues with scientific names. Things are constantly being reclassified, moved, renamed. But at least these name changes are done in an effort to more accurately reflect the evolutionary history of each species.

BiologicalJewels
11-18-2009, 04:47 PM
First off, as far as I know:


Cyriopagopus sp. "blue" = Singapore BLue = Lampropelma violaceops

Tiger Rump = Cyclosternum fasciatum

Dwarf Tiger Rump = Cyriocosmus elegans

It is my opinion that if you are at all interested in knowing what you keep, you must use it's current (see: keeping up ) scientific name. This is the ONLY way to correctly identify a specimen.
This is also incredibly important for breeders. Can you imagine a breeder (or anyone else for that matter) not knowing the scientific names and breeding "pinktoes".

yup, there's a problem there my friend.

However, as someone already mentioned, it really comes down to what audience you are talking to. When giving a presentation to a group of second graders, one can say "This is an Avicularia avicularia", but chances are they will be more receptive and interested in it if you simply call it a "Pinktoe".

OR

hellraizor
11-18-2009, 04:51 PM
When I first started out I had to make flash cards just to learn the scientific names of my Ts. Now, I cant even remember the common names I was trying to get away from. It just takes time. But after so long, we can all be the cool scientific sounding people other's are jealous of.
And when I hear "white-knee bird eater" I think of A.geniculata. But I could be wrong.

Kirk
11-18-2009, 04:55 PM
When I first started keeping, that was indeed the name used for Singapore Blue, but more recently I have heard that it has been changed to Lapropelma something. Or do I have it backwards? And I was referring to Cyclosternum fasciatum, but I have also heard some say that it has been reclassified as Davus fasciatum. Which is it?

Bill, that is a pretty egotistical view. Common people know little about tarantulas, and not everyone has a science background. Why should anyone expect them to understand a concept that is completely foreign to them?

Remember, this is a pet keeping forum, not a scientific community. Treating people like idiots just because they dont speak your language is pretty rude, both on the internet and in day-to-day life. And I am not talking about just you, Bill. This attitude is pretty widespread.

One doesn't have to have a scientific background to use formal scientific names, much less understand the concept behind a name any more than understanding the basis for a common name. But, for those who avail themselves of the wealth of information available on AB, we do see on a regular basis that there are opportunities to know when formal name changes occur, as well as web sites available to check the current availability of names (e.g. The World Spider Catalog (http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/THERAPHOSIDAE.html)).

This isn't just a 'pet keeping' forum. It's also a place to discuss scientific, environmental, conservation, etc., issues related to tarantulas. All in all, the best way to ensure consistency and ease of communication on such a forum is to use scientific names.

BCscorp
11-18-2009, 04:57 PM
This is what happens at my place.
Guest:"oh my...you have lots of spiders...whats the blue one called?"
Me: "that my friend is a Poecilotheria metallica or commonly called a Gooty Sapphire Ornamental"
Guest: "Wow you even know their scientific names!"
Me: "Yes, its important to know both in my opinion."

ArachnoYak
11-18-2009, 04:59 PM
Why is it that these threads pop up over and over again and are usually started by someone who is too lazy to learn scientific names? The effort that was put into finding that article would have been better spent looking up any latin names that have eluded you. Scientific names should be learned for any animal you chose to care for in your home as they are the only reliable way to gain accurate information. Kind of reminds me of the people who deny global warming exists and use every bit of their time providing pseudo-evidence to deny the fact. Please, nobody reply to the global warming quip as it's a whole other ball of wax and the focus is on binomial nomenclature here. Anyone keeping any animal or even learning about an animal or plant for that matter, should make every effort to learn it's latin name. The push to standardize common names for any species of animal other than the most obvious(lion, tiger, bear, etc.) is pointless.

jayefbe
11-18-2009, 05:00 PM
And when I hear "white-knee bird eater" I think of A.geniculata. But I could be wrong.

For the most part, it would be describing A. geniculata. But it could also be a number of other Acanthoscurria or even Nhandu Chromatus. The point is that even a generally accepted common name could just as easily be placed on a number of similar species.

Xian
11-18-2009, 05:04 PM
I think it's a good idea to try and keep up with both sides of the name issue. It is nice to be able to refer to both names at different times.

hellraizor
11-18-2009, 05:05 PM
For the most part, it would be describing A. geniculata. But it could also be a number of other Acanthoscurria or even Nhandu Chromatus. The point is that even a generally accepted common name could just as easily be placed on a number of similar species.

agreed. Im on your side man. I use scientific names only just to keep from having any misunderstandings.

jayefbe
11-18-2009, 05:08 PM
agreed. Im on your side man. I use scientific names only just to keep from having any misunderstandings.

Yeah, a scientific name you KNOW what is being discussed. Any common name, you're about 75-90% certain.

metallica
11-18-2009, 05:17 PM
they are an official pain in the ass!

BrettG
11-18-2009, 05:18 PM
Why is it that these threads pop up over and over again and are usually started by someone who is too lazy to learn scientific names? The effort that was put into finding that article would have been better spent looking up any latin names that have eluded you. Scientific names should be learned for any animal you chose to care for in your home as they are the only reliable way to gain accurate information. Kind of reminds me of the people who deny global warming exists and use every bit of their time providing pseudo-evidence to deny the fact. Please, nobody reply to the global warming quip as it's a whole other ball of wax and the focus is on binomial nomenclature here. Anyone keeping any animal or even learning about an animal or plant for that matter, should make every effort to learn it's latin name. The push to standardize common names for any species of animal other than the most obvious(lion, tiger, bear, etc.) is pointless.

Well,I for one am TERRIBLE with foreign languages. Try as I may,I have never been able to pick them up.Probably could not to save my life either..... So for some of us it is not "laziness"Now I MAY know the Latin names of my T's,but I could never pronounce any of them properly.I would sound like a flipping idiot trying.

Kirk
11-18-2009, 05:28 PM
Well,I for one am TERRIBLE with foreign languages. Try as I may,I have never been able to pick them up.Probably could not to save my life either..... So for some of us it is not "laziness"Now I MAY know the Latin names of my T's,but I could never pronounce any of them properly.I would sound like a flipping idiot trying.

You're not being required to learn Latin, and no one can hear your pronunciation here. Just as many of the everyday words you use are derived from Latin and Greek, learning a scientific name requires no more effort than a common name. But scientific names ensure greater ease of accurately communicating.

Mad Hatter
11-18-2009, 05:38 PM
I think it's a good idea to try and keep up with both sides of the name issue. It is nice to be able to refer to both names at different times.

I completely agree.

Maybe it's just my obsessive compulsive personality, but I like to label my tanks and cards:

Scientific name
Common Name
"Personal Name"

So that's three names total, for each of my Ts. :)

It's true that most non-T-owners are a lot more comfortable with common names because they just don't understand scientific names, at least IME that has been the case. In fact, they are often more comfortable with the "personal name" (the "pet" name) than the common name!

And if you take the time to explain to them why the scientific names are important, they can see the point of it quickly.

People aren't dumb, but not everyone knows as much about Ts as people like us who keep them.

I sure didn't know much when I first joined AB. And after 5 years of keeping Ts, I am still learning new things.

Xian
11-18-2009, 05:47 PM
I completely agree.

Maybe it's just my obsessive compulsive personality, but I like to label my tanks and cards:

Scientific name
Common Name
"Personal Name"

So that's three names total, for each of my Ts. :)




I did the very same thing. I have since dropped the 'personal name', But I like seeing both names.

JimM
11-18-2009, 05:59 PM
Throughout the years, when a layperson asks me about my aquarium, reef tank, monitor lizards, snakes or tarantulas, more often than not I see their eyes glaze over by the time I get to the 2nd or 3rd scientific name. I've learned by now to not even bother, so common names do have their purpose, and for the casual observer they work just fine.

They do not however serve science nor in many cases the hobby, and learning them is certainly not tantamount to learning another language.

Roski
11-18-2009, 06:46 PM
Throughout the years, when a layperson asks me about my aquarium, reef tank, monitor lizards, snakes or tarantulas, more often than not I see their eyes glaze over by the time I get to the 2nd or 3rd scientific name. I've learned by now to not even bother, so common names do have their purpose, and for the casual observer they work just fine.


This is definitely true of my experiences also. Except replace 2nd or 3rd scientific name with 2nd or 3rd syllable of the first name.

Every time I hear "what kind are they?" I do a mental reset, and automatically begin sounding off the scientific names followed by the common names. It helps people make a connection between the two, so that some of the tediousness is alleviated, or so I like to think. Either that, or I'm just self-conscious of something that I am so accustomed to that must be total gibberish to everyone I know.

Both names are useful under different circumstances, but formally and especially in scientific communication, scientific names are much more clear IMO. The seemingly "musical chairs" system of junior and senior synonyms isn't something that will be overcome by common names, as that may open even more doors for confusion (like it already does now).

JimM
11-18-2009, 06:58 PM
This is definitely true of my experiences also. Except replace 2nd or 3rd scientific name with 2nd or 3rd syllable of the first name.


Yeah, probably more accurate.

Bill S
11-18-2009, 08:19 PM
Bill, that is a pretty egotistical view. Common people know little about tarantulas, and not everyone has a science background. Why should anyone expect them to understand a concept that is completely foreign to them?

Not trying to offend you, gambite, but I'm going to suggest that your approach is the insulting one - to assume that "common people" know little about tarantulas or don't have the ability to learn scientific names. "They" don't need to have a deep understanding of science or the processes involved in deriving the names - but how complicated is it to learn "Grammostola rosea"?


Remember, this is a pet keeping forum, not a scientific community. Treating people like idiots just because they dont speak your language is pretty rude, both on the internet and in day-to-day life. And I am not talking about just you, Bill. This attitude is pretty widespread.

As has been pointed out, this is not just a pet-keeping forum. Nor just a scientific forum. It's open to the public at large, and I maintain that the average person really CAN learn new words, and can benefit from some of the scientific concepts discussed here. As you mention, the attitude is widespread - but I don't think it's one of treating people like idiots. Instead, it's one of spreading knowledge among those who are receptive.

People today are subjected to a rapidly changing culture, with new vocabulary for new inventions appearing all the time. The level of learning that is necessary just to keep up with that is far more than what you will have to learn to keep up with scientific names for tarantulas common in the pet trade, yet people do it rather easily.

Stan Schultz
11-18-2009, 08:22 PM
In doing research for some related schoolwork, I found this interesting article on the common names of tarantulas.

http://www.americanarachnology.org/acn5.pdf ...

It's also been posted on the American Tarantula Society website at http://www.atshq.org/downloads.shtml for many years.


... A very interesting read! I dont know much about the organization behind it though, how "official" and authoritative are these names? I definitely see their point, though. It is very confusing to see Brachypelma smithi referred to as Euthalus smithi, and I am still not sure exactly what the "official" scientific name for the Singapore Blue or Tiger Rump are.

Congratulations! You have just reopened a gaping, bloody wound that has caused flame wars that rival WWII! No, I understand that it's not your fault, and I'm most certainly not blaming you. I'm just warning you to put on your asbestos underwear and aluminum coated suit with the funny, hood thing.

There are people out there who believe so passionately in scientific names that they are almost ready to commit murder over them. (At least it would seem so by the fervor of their exhortations and arguments.) There are others who feel almost as strongly about common names.

A few of us think that there's enough room in our brains and enough justification in reality to allow the use of both naming systems to advantage.

This is particularly important at this time because new evidence based on DNA analysis is beginning to strongly suggest that our understanding of "species," based on morphology alone (the classical approach) and applicable to theraphosid tarantulas, is probably erroneous in a large number of instances. If so, the common name approach may be the most valid show in town until the experts finally get the problem unsnarled.

Lastly, before proceeding, you should understand that neither naming system, scientific or common, is without its faults and shortcomings.

Let the WAR begin!

curiousme
11-18-2009, 08:22 PM
After a week or so on this forum, i stopped trying to remember common names. i realized that the scientific name was the way to go and the common names were just more complicated. Any pet store can call the T whatever they want, tiger rump, baboon, stripe knee........... there are dozens of Ts that could be, but with the scientific name there is NO confusion.

It takes a bit of time to get the scientific names down, but it is well worth the effort. i am still learning them!;)

Mad Hatter
11-18-2009, 08:42 PM
Common people know little about tarantulas, and not everyone has a science background. Why should anyone expect them to understand a concept that is completely foreign to them?


"They" don't need to have a deep understanding of science or the processes involved in deriving the names - but how complicated is it to learn "Grammostola rosea"?

I see what you both are saying, but I think the problem arises because generally people foreign to the hobby don't:

1) understand the importance of the scientific name

...and...

2) most don't actually care that much about tarantulas to want to learn the scientific name - they prefer to take the "easy way" and use the common name.

On the rare occasion that I show my Ts to others (others not in the hobby), I have instinctively referred to them by scientific names, such as G. rosea. However, after they learn the common name, the response is typically "Why didn't you just say that in the first place?"



It's that they don't see the point of learning common names. Most refer to their dogs as... well "dogs," or Pit Bulls, or Black Labs, etc... instead of Canis lupis familiaris. And I have found that most not in the hobby will think it is "silly" to use the scientific name for a T, when Ts generally mean less to most folks than dogs.

...that's just an example.



It's the "why" that is important to explain to people.

If you explain why, then people are more apt to understand the importance of using scientific names in the hobby.

Steve Calceatum
11-18-2009, 08:49 PM
Personally, I do use a few common names (OBT, GBB, Rosie, PinkToe)....they are pretty unmistakable. However, when I show my friends an E. olivacea pic (usually declaring, "I WANT!!!!"), I have no idea what to tell them when they ask what kind of T it is. So, outside of the aformentioned common names I use, it is alot easier if I stick with the scientific names and redundantly explain why it is that I do not use common ones.

ArachnoYak
11-19-2009, 02:06 AM
...learning them is certainly not tantamount to learning another language.

Well said Jim. It's not rocket science.

RottweilExpress
11-19-2009, 06:22 AM
Basically, the article is aimed at "dumbing it down" for the general public. It isn't saying that there's anything more accurate about using approved common names, just hinting that "common folk" are too dumb to be able to grasp scientific names.

I guess the truth of this may lie within the audience you are dealing with.

Yes, but I will never use a common name when dealing with friends, hobbyists or buyers. It's setting the bar too low, to be honest. If you buy an animal from me, you will know what you get, for future referens in the case that you need to ID the animal for sale, mating, vets or what not.

Mack&Cass
11-19-2009, 06:50 AM
I completely agree.

Maybe it's just my obsessive compulsive personality, but I like to label my tanks and cards:

Scientific name
Common Name
"Personal Name"

So that's three names total, for each of my Ts. :)

It's true that most non-T-owners are a lot more comfortable with common names because they just don't understand scientific names, at least IME that has been the case. In fact, they are often more comfortable with the "personal name" (the "pet" name) than the common name!

And if you take the time to explain to them why the scientific names are important, they can see the point of it quickly.

People aren't dumb, but not everyone knows as much about Ts as people like us who keep them.

I sure didn't know much when I first joined AB. And after 5 years of keeping Ts, I am still learning new things.

I completely agree with you. It's hard because when people are like "what kind of tarantulas do you have?" it's really tough to answer. I'm absolutely terrible with common names, however I've managed to learn a lot of scientific names since joining this hobby in January. Even with T's I'm not that bad, it's scorpions that I have no idea. I think out of all the scorpion scientific names I know, I only know 3 common names...I think it's because when Mackenzie and I moved in together, he used the scientific names so I really had no choice but to learn them. I prefer scientific names, and that's what we use when we talk to each other. Nobody I know really cares enough to ask me what kind of tarantula I'm making them look at so I don't really run into problems.

We label our tanks just with the scientific name and their 'pet' name, the pet name is what we use most often when talking about our own personal T's. But we use scientific names when talking about the general species or genus or what have you. However, in our records we list the common name as well. We also have a binder I made as a species reference (these are the things I do while working nights) and I put common names in there too. It's interesting how common names are used like mad in some hobbies (ie herps) and not so much in others (T's).

Cass

Moltar
11-19-2009, 09:00 AM
Anybody who says scientific names are unnecessary are welcome to describe which of the following species are what. IMO this brief excercise illustrates the need for proper scientific naming.

Brazilian White Knee
Brazilian White Leg
Brazilian Red
Brazilian Red and Black
Brazilian Black
Brazilian Black and White
Brazilian Red Rump
Brazilian Pink Rump

Well, the list goes on and on but I think y'all get the idea. It's fine if you're just some new tarantula keeper looking at a webpage or an LPS but as soon as you try to collect a certain genus or start breeding the common names become pretty much useless.

Kirk
11-19-2009, 01:35 PM
Yes, but I will never use a common name when dealing with friends, hobbyists or buyers. It's setting the bar too low, to be honest. If you buy an animal from me, you will know what you get, for future referens in the case that you need to ID the animal for sale, mating, vets or what not.

Given that you're in Sweden, you can invoke the name of Carl Linnaeus as a good defense!

ArachnoYak
11-19-2009, 02:34 PM
Given that you're in Sweden, you can invoke the name of Carl Linnaeus as a good defense!


Don't you mean Carl Von Linne? lol

Kirk
11-19-2009, 02:47 PM
Don't you mean Carl Von Linne? lol

His birth name was Carl Linnaeus. You'll also find the Latinized form as Carolus Linnaeus, in for instance his Systema Naturae. In 1761 he became part of nobility, and thus given the name Carl von Linne. I've visited his homes, and his grave.

JimM
11-19-2009, 03:50 PM
I've visited his homes, and his grave.

That's some Linnaean dedication right there!

Bill S
11-19-2009, 03:55 PM
His birth name was Carl Linnaeus. You'll also find the Latinized form as Carolus Linnaeus, in for instance his Systema Naturae. In 1761 he became part of nobility, and thus given the name Carl von Linne. I've visited his homes, and his grave.

I'd read that it was his father who adopted the Latinized form of the name, that it had been von Linne before that.

Kirk
11-19-2009, 04:40 PM
I'd read that it was his father who adopted the Latinized form of the name, that it had been von Linne before that.

For clarification, see here (http://linnaeus.c18.net/Doc/lbio.php).

MIC
11-19-2009, 05:07 PM
I completely agree with someone who suggest to use the scientific name for any animal.

So our next sally to the mountain can be described like this:

I kept away my Canis.familiaris from the terrified Felis.catus while far off, i could hear the Canis.lupus howling. It was also impressive to see, in the wet path, the Ursus.arctos footprints. The only thing, that bothered me, were the pesky Culex.quinquefasciatus swarms.

Come on guys! Everything depends on how widespread and well known an animal is. Even for us, i think, is more common the 'Green Bottle Blue' (GBB) than Chromatopelma.cyaneopubescens. :p

killy
11-19-2009, 06:29 PM
Anybody who says scientific names are unnecessary are welcome to describe which of the following species are what. IMO this brief excercise illustrates the need for proper scientific naming.

Brazilian White Knee
Brazilian White Leg
Brazilian Red
Brazilian Red and Black
Brazilian Black
Brazilian Black and White
Brazilian Red Rump
Brazilian Pink Rump

Well, the list goes on and on but I think y'all get the idea. It's fine if you're just some new tarantula keeper looking at a webpage or an LPS but as soon as you try to collect a certain genus or start breeding the common names become pretty much useless.

I agree, and I base this concurrence on personal experience. When I first got into tarantula keeping, I decided I wanted a Chaco gold knee tarantula - I had seen one at a show. I felt it best to research the care and handling first, so I went to Google (finding this forum was one of the happy consequences) ... anyway, I kept encountering discussions about "gold-knees" and "gold-stripes" and even "golden legs" - I wanted to make sure that I got a "gold-knee" just like I saw at the show. It wasn't until it was pointed out to me that these are all common names for the Grammostola aureostriata that I realized the reason for my confusion - they're all the same spider! As if that wasn't enough, not long after getting my "aureostriata" (Latin for "gold-stripes" by the way) I found out that there are 2 Latin names for this particular Grammostola, and that "pulchrides" is the more correct :wall: This was a good lesson for me, and I henceforth stopped referring to my Ts by their common names on the forum and got used to using the Latin ones. But with people like my nieces, I'll still go with the common names (after all, what's more fun for little girls, Avicularia versicolor, or Antilles Pink-Toed Tarantula ? ;)

Stan Schultz
11-20-2009, 10:31 AM
Anybody who says scientific names are unnecessary are welcome to describe which of the following species are what. IMO this brief excercise illustrates the need for proper scientific naming. ...

Forgive me Ethan, but I don't recall anyone saying "scientific names are unnecessary." In fact any of us who have any grasp of taxonomy generally agree that scientific names hold a very important place in the scheme of things.

However, I have heard several major criticisms of taxonomy and scientific names as practiced today. Among them are:

1. There is no single, good, global definition of what a "species" is (understand that this is not the creature, but the philosophical concept). All we have are either a collection of disparate definitions dependent on each group of organism or expert, or a general "gut feeling" of what we're talking about.

This lack of a uniform, leveling, "common denominator" causes confusion and huge debates at all levels of taxonomy from newbie amateurs on the street to the "grand-daddy experts" who discuss the subject using words and concepts completely unintelligible to you and me. Truly a confusion of languages fit for the City of Babylon.

2. Because of the lack of a hard and fast definition of what a species really is, the naming of species becomes a highly opinionated matter with great potential (some would say certainty) for confounding issues such as personal bias, ignorance, incompetence, carelessness, personality conflicts, honest mistakes, and personal gain to sway the process from some hypothetical, "true" state. (This, of course, keeps many busily employed correcting the screw-ups of past generations!)

3. Our understanding of what species are, how they arise, and how we might differentiate them has experienced several really major upheavals since Linnť or Linneaus or "our buddy Karl" first started this process. As a result of this, we're still playing "catch up," trying to coordinate and unify our system across the full spectrum of living organisms on Earth. And, it doesn't help that we're discovering and describing hundreds of new species a week, and a new concept for the organization of life on Earth is proposed almost monthly. Thus, taxonomists are in the peculiar position of having to "run as fast as they can to merely stay even!"

4. From a very practical perspective, the result of all this (and probably some other factors I've forgotten) is that scientific names tend to change, sometimes distressingly often. In this respect at least, scientific names are really little better than common names in that so much energy and time must be spent in tracking these changes. If you have any doubts about this I refer you to http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/INTRO1.html. Dr. Platnick has dedicated a major portion of his career to trying to keep track of, and unsnarl, the name changing game with just one relatively small group of animals (spiders, 35,000 or 40,000 putative species out of a total of 10,000,000 or more organisms).

I'm beginning to like my Ouija board more and more every day!

MutedUziel
11-20-2009, 11:27 AM
Maybe we could make it easier for noobs to the hobby by having a thread with Scientific Name, Common Name, Picture...


Avicularia avicularia
Pinktoe
http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/photos/PinkToe1015Closeup00.jpg
( Google Image)

Brachypelma smithi
Mexican Redknee
http://www.arachnoboards.com/ab/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=14715
(Posted By: a_shadow Arachnoboards)

I think this would have been very helpful for me.

Michael Jacobi
11-20-2009, 02:06 PM
Of course there is a usefulness to common names, at least as a general concept. Most young English-speaking children know what a lion or wolf or housefly is, but even the vast majority of adults would have no clue what the scientific names of those animals are.

However, in arachnoculture we have adopted a more accurate and international language that we should all embrace. We don't have to deal with the confusion of arbitrary descriptions that examples in previous posts in this thread illustrate. We can rise above that, as an international collective, and strive to ensure our hobby is exceptional by using scientific names alone.

This isn't the case in all exotic animal hobbies. In herpetoculture you have a split situation with, for example, dart frog and leaf-tailed gecko keepers leaning to the exclusive use of scientific names, while few snake keepers would refer to a Burmese python as Python molurus bivitattus. (Hell, for many of these giant snake guys even "Burmese python" is too much and they settle for "burm".) And scientific names are the only terms used for many aquarists such as African cichlid enthusiasts. I hope you all would want to be more like the exacting detail-oriented dart frog and leaf-tailed gecko herpetoculturists and cichlid aquarists and keep our hobby accurate and striving to excel in all areas, including nomenclature. After all there is no confusion between elephant and elephant shrew, or Burmese python and ball python for that matter. But there is loads of confusion between many of the common names that have muddied tarantula discussions.

I appreciate the position expressed in the original post's quote. If you are giving a tarantula presentation to a classroom or are showing off a tarantula to a neophyte at a reptile show I sure hope you use "Mexican Redknee" instead of Brachypelma smithi. Technical terms can alienate future hobbyists at first. But for our hobby and amongst our developing hobbyists, let's strive to elevate arachnoculture to all that it can be, and accuracy in nomenclature and the incredible international usefulness of scientific names is an important way to make our hobby a leader in exotic animal husbandry hobbies.

A couple of sidenotes:

Scientific names are not scary.

They are scientific names, not Latin names. Although many are indeed derived from Latin, many are also derived from people's names (patronyms) or geographic names or Greek or... whatever.

Don't worry about pronunciation. Just worry about spelling.
Pronunciation doesn't matter: people from different parts of the world will all pronounce them differently and the many Latin-based scientific names will even be pronounced differently by Latin scholars. Most of your use of scientific names will be writing, not speaking. Get comfortable with writing and spelling correctly. Pronunciation in speech will come later by a natural process.
Just spell correctly: And remember that the genus is capitalized and the species is not. The most frequent mistake made - as evidenced by posts here every day - is using an uppercase letter in species name (specific epithet).

Yes, scientific names change more often than common names.
The Chaco gold-striped remains, but yesterday's Grammostola aureostriata is today's G. pulchripes, which is somewhat sad considering that "aureostriata" literally means gold-striped. But you are smart folks. You can keep up with change. There is my The Tarantula Bibliography (http://www.exoticfauna.com/tarantulabibliography/index.html) to help. ;)

All the above said, scientific names do not ensure accuracy.
It must be stressed that using scientific names in arachnoculture allows us to be more accurate communicating with each other, but that doesn't make the scientific names we use inherently accurate. We are hobbyists, not taxonomists, and we can only use the name that is prevalent in our hobby. We can't determine if we are using the correct one. The genus Avicularia is the prime example of this. We can only know that if we use Avicularia metallica we are hopefully all referring to the large, often docile, hairy, blue-sheened Avic with long grizzled seemingly white-tipped setae (hairs). We can't know that it is the exact species that was described so long ago as Avicularia metallica. Our spider might be something else. It likely is. That is for taxonomists not hobbyists to decide. But as long as we all use the same name... Who gives a punt? By using the scientific name we are striving to be accurate, not necessarily succeeding. ;)

Best regards, Michael

Stan Schultz
11-20-2009, 11:16 PM
Of course there is a usefulness to common names, at least as a general concept. ...

Though Michael and I have crossed swords on more than one occasion and topic, here I must agree with him fully.

Let cool minds prevail.

Way to go Mike! :clap::clap::clap:

BCscorp
11-21-2009, 01:19 PM
A great reminder of the passion for tarantulas that we all share to some degree or another.