Binomial Nomenclature Definition, Information


What is Binary Nomenclature or also called Binomial Nomenclature? How and why was it discovered? What does it do and what are its features?

Binomial Nomenclature Definition & Information

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A major step was taken by Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist who lived during the eighteenth century (1707- 1778). He developed a two- word naming system called binomial nomenclature. This system is still in use today. He used two ideas in classifying living things:

  • He grouped organisms according to the similarities in the structure.
  • He gave a two- word (or binomial) Latin name to each organism.

In binomial nomenclature, the scientific name is always written in italics. The first word is capitalized, and the second word is lowercased.

For example, the pine tree is called Pinus sylvestris. The first part of the scientific name -in this case, Pinus- is the genus to which the organism belongs.

A genus is a group of closely related species. The genus Pinus contains three other kinds of pine trees, including Pinus pinea, Pinus alba and Pinus nigra.


The second part of a scientific name -in this case sylvestris, pinea, alba and nigra- is unique to each species within the genus. Often, this part of the name is a Latinized description of some important features of the organism or an indication of where the organism lives. For example, the Latin name of mulberry is “Morus alba.” The Latin term “alba” means white. The Latin name of black mulberry is “Morus nigra”. The Latin term “nigra” means black. Or, similar to this, the name can refer to the scientist who has first found and defined the specie, or the location where it was found.

“Acanthodactylus harranensis” is a type of lizard which is found in Harran Plain. “Vipera barani’ is the name of a snake which was named after a Turkish herpetologist; Ibrahim Baran.

Linnaeus’s classification system is hierarchical; that is, it consists of levels.

This system includes seven levels. They are-from smallest to largest- species, genus, family, order, class, phylum and kingdom. In taxonomic nomenclature, or naming system, each of those levels is called a taxon (plural: taxa), or taxonomic category.

Genera that share many characteristics are grouped in larger category, the family- in this case Pinaceae. These plants, together with six other families of plants, sucb as Cupressaceae and Taxaceae, are grouped in the order Pinales. An order is a broad taxonomic category composed of similar families. The next larger category, the class, is composed of similar orders. For example, order Pinales is placed in the class Pinopsida, which includes cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissues, all of them including a woody stem.

Several different classes make up a phylum. A phylum includes many different species that share important characteristics. The class Pinopsida is grouped into the phylum Pinophyta. All these organisms share important features of their body plan, internal functions and reproductive patterns. Finally, all plants are placed in the kingdom Plantae. The kingdom is the largest and most inclusive of Linnaeus’s taxonomic categories.

Today’s classification system or the phylogenetic (natural) classification has been based on the similarities in the anatomical structures and embryonic developments of organisms. Taxonomists also consider genetic and biochemical similarities such as amino acid sequences of certain proteins, behavior, fossil records and evolutionary origins.


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