Biologists follow universally accepted principles to provide scientific names to known organisms.
Each name has two components – the Generic name (genus) and the specific epithet (species name). Hence the system is called binomial nomenclature.
We can compare generic (genus) name with our surname. We share our surname with other members of the family. similarly, a species can share a generic name with other members of the genus.
The species name is like our name. It is possessed by only one kind of organism. It does not share it with any other member of the genus.
This system of providing a name with two components is called Binomial nomenclature.
This naming system given by Carolus Linnaeus is being practiced by biologists all over the world.
Rules of Nomenclature:
These rules are given by International Code of Biological Nomenclature.
Biological names are generally in Latin and written in italics.
They are Latinised or derived from Latin irrespective of their origin.
The first word in a biological name represents the genus which is simple noun while the second component is a descriptive adjective which denotes the specific epithet (character).
Both the words in a biological name, when handwritten, are separately underlined or printed in italics to indicate their Latin origin.
The first word denoting the genus starts with a capital letter while the specific epithet starts with a small letter.
The generic, as well as a specific name, do not generally have less than three letters and more than thirteen letters.
It can be illustrated with the example of Mangifera indica (mango).
Usually, the name of the author appears after the specific epithet, i.e., at the end of the biological name and is written in an abbreviated form or in full. e.g. Mangifera indica L. It indicates that this species was first described by Linnaeus. This method of mentioning author’s name is called citation.
To avoid confusion, no two generic names in any kingdom can be same. However, species name can be repeated when genera are different. E.g. Mangifera indica (mango) and Azadirachta indica (neem)
Advantages of Binomial Nomenclature:
These names are simple and meaningful, precise and standard as they are accepted universally.
Using this system confusion created by vernacular or local language can be avoided. For e.g. Ipomoea batatas is called sweet potato (English), Shakarkand (Hindi), Ratalu (Marathi), Meetha alu (Bengali), Kandmul (Telugu) and Janasu (Kannada)3. It is easy to understand and remember.
It indicates a phylogenic (evolutionary) history of that species.
It helps to understand the relation between organism and groups of organism.
Names of Some Plants Using Binomial Nomenclature:
Names of Some Animals Using Binomial Nomenclature: