Names . . .
gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Wed Jun 9 13:25:06 EDT 1999
I can agree with James Adams' point that "Learning scientific names can be fun, but doesn't automatically put you above your common-name using
public, and knowing common names doesn't make you any less scientific."
And scientific names may or may not reflect something descriptive about the butterfly. Paul Opler provided a very useful etymology section in his big book. And Harry Zirlin has a series of articles on the meaning of butterfly names in AMERICAN BUTTERFLIES. In birds I'm used to descriptive names----atricapillus meaning black capped or Egretta alba meaning white egret, or even an occasional rufinucha, although why our American Crow is named brachyrhynchos I guess is in comparison to the larger-billed Raven (note that is not Large-billed Raven). .
I would guess that fewer butterfly scientific names are descriptive than bird names.
Just another bird-aside. Gene Eisenmann was also aggressive about rooting out patronymics. Thus no Henry's Elfin for him, Callophrys henrici (or Incisalia henrici if you prefer) would need a new name. In NJ we might have named it the Holly Elfin (except that many populations elsewhere don't feed on Holly),
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