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Biology: Biological Nomenclature

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2019 1:45 PM

Biological Names

The biological sciences have established a “binomial nomenclature” as the formal and preferred system of naming biological organisms. Sometimes the phrase “Latin name” may be encountered rather than the preferred “scientific name” of a species; that is, the genus and species names in Latin (or a Latin-ized word). For instance, humans are known generically by their scientific name as Homo sapiens (genus Homo;, species sapiens). This naming convention was first proposed by Carl Linnaeus in the mid-1730s and published and revised through the 1740s as Systema Naturae, which grew from a pamphlet into a multi-volume work. In 1753 Linneaus published Species Plantarum ("The Species of Plants"), which more than two centuries later is the basis for plant nomenclature used today!


The names of organisms are critical search terms in many bibliographic, genomic, and reference databases. Because of their importance as search terms, access to references on taxonomy and biological names is an important “finding tool” for biologists. Several of the major (and overlapping) resources are provided here:




Fred Stoss's picture
Fred Stoss
105 Lockwood Memorial Library