index of concepts
What's in a name?
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
The same animal may have different common names.
Scientific names CAN CHANGE!
Scientific names are always written in italics.

In this website, you will often come across a perfectly understandable name like 'Copperband butterflyfish' followed immediately by something like 'Chelmon rostratus'. 'Copperband butterflyfish' is the common name for the animal and 'Chelmon rostratus' is its scientific name.
Why do we have scientific names?
Scientists everywhere use the same scientific name regardless of the language they speak or write. Thus they know exactly which living thing is discussed. In this universal scientific naming system, each kind of living things has a unique name in a language which includes Latin and Greek words.

Why not just use common names? Common names are confusing because one living thing may have several common names; or one common name can refer to several different living things.

If you need to find out more about a living thing, say on the internet, for a more accurate search, use the scientific name rather than the common name.

Chelmon rostratus

Secrets of scientific names: Scientific names reveal the relationship among living things. Just as we may guess that two people with the same surname are somehow related. Scientific names organise living things into groups.

A scientific name has two parts: a generic name (genus) followed by a specific name (species). Those of the same species can breed in the wild, but not with others of a different species. Related species have the same genus name and share similar features.

Related genera (plural of genus) are grouped into a Family. Those in the same Family share similar characteristics and a common ancestry.

Related Families are grouped into an Order, related Orders into a Class, and related Classes into a Phylum. Related Phyla (plural of phylum) are grouped into a Kingdom.

Along the right hand margin are some of the more familiar members of the Phylum Mollusca. They appear different but they share similar features and a common ancestry. Thus they are grouped together. For example, they are soft-bodied, with a radula (rasping tongue) and many have shells.

Here is another example showing the classification of sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea cucumbers.

As if this were not confusing enough, scientific names may change as more is learnt about the ancestry and features of various plants and animals. Such new information may change the way living things are organised, and their scientific names are changed accordingly.

Scientific names are written in italics.

Sometimes, after the genus name, there is an abbreviation 'sp.' for 'a species' or 'spp.' for 'many species'. This means we are referring to members of a genus and not to a specific species.

As the study of animals progresses, there are different ways of grouping animals based on new discoveries of their genetic
Phylum Mollusca
Some of the Classes in the Phylum Mollusca
include the following...

Class Gastropoda

Various orders

Snails with shells
Various orders

Order Nudibranchia

Order Sacoglossa

Sea hares
Order Anaspidea

Class Bivalvia

Class Cephalopoda

Order Octopoda

Order Teuthoidea

Bottletail squid
Suborder Sepiolida

Order Sepioidea


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