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Naming Life

Naming Life: Binomial nomenclature

Scientists have a formal system of naming organisms, called binomial nomenclature. This two-word naming system (sometimes called the scientific, or Latin, name) was adopted by the botanist Carolus Linnaeus. The first name refers to the genus of the organism, the second to the species within that genus; the two together are required to completely identify the organism. Modern humans belong to the genus Homo and species sapiens. Both are italicized, by convention, and the first is capitalized but not the second. The first is often abbreviated by using only the first letter. Sometimes a third name is used, if there are subspecies. For example, Felis silvestris is a group of cats that includes both some wildcat species and domestic cats, F. silvestris catus.


Scientific names of a few common organisms are:
Zea mays (maize)
Oryza sativa (rice)
Homo sapiens (humans)
Felis silvestris catus (domestic cat)

For more information (and some fun facts and interesting names!) see:
Curiosities of Binomial Nomenclature: http://www.curioustaxonomy.net/

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