Binomial nomenclature is the biological system of naming organisms. The name is composed of two terms- the first term is called the “genus” and the second term is called the “species”. The first letter of the genus name is written in capital letter and the species name is completely written in small letters. The scientific names are written in italics by convention so as to distinguish this name from other texts or normal texts. This system is employed because there are several local names for many organisms throughout the globe and this may create confusion among people. Scientific names help to avoid this confusion and each organism can be easily identified. All living organisms have their own scientific names and let’s see some of those.
- The scientific name of Lion is Panthera leo. Here the first term “Panthera” indicates the genus and the second term “leo” indicates the species.
- The scientific name of Ostrich is Struthio camelus. Here the first term “Struthio” indicates the genus and the second term “camelus” indicates the species.
- The scientific name of apple is Malus domestica. Here the first term “malus” indicates the genus and the second term “domestica” indicates the species.
Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist introduced the binomial system of nomenclature in 1751. Linnaeus designed a system to differentiate species from one another. He wrote a book named “Systema Naturae” (The system of nature) where he described and classified more than thousands of plant and animal species. The first edition of Systema Naturae was published in the year 1735 which was a small pamphlet detailing Linnaeus’s new system of the classification of nature. He continued to publish more editions of Systema Naturae and through this more species were classified. In total, Linnaeus named 7,700 plant species and 4,400 animal species with the help of his binomial nomenclature system. The tenth edition of the book was considered as the most important one and it was published in the year 1758. The title name of the tenth edition read “System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera and species, with characters, differences, synonyms, places.” Linnaeus proposed that there were three broad groups called “kingdoms”. He told that all the species in nature will come under kingdoms. Linnaeus’s kingdoms included animals, plants, and minerals. Linnaeus divided each of these kingdoms into classes. Classes were divided into orders. Orders were further divided into genera and then species. The base of today’s naming and classification procedure is this discovery of Linnaeus.
Although Carl Linnaeus was credited for the discovery of the binomial nomenclature, his work was largely influenced by Gaspard Bauhin and Johann Bauhin. The brothers were Swiss botanists and both of them started to use binomial nomenclature even before 200 years. The brothers introduced many generic names and many of these generic names were adopted by Linnaeus.
Rules of Binomial Nomenclature:
There are certain rules for binomial nomenclature and there are two universal codes used for the naming procedure by all the biologists in the world. These two codes are ICBN and ICZN.
ICBN stands for International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. ICBN deals with the biological nomenclature of plants. Other than plants, this code is also used for the naming procedure of fungi and algae.
ICZN stands for International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. ICZN deals with the biological nomenclature of animals.
Now, let’s see the rules of implementing binomial nomenclature.
- All the scientific names are usually Latin and hence they are written in Italics.
- The scientific name consists of two terms. The first term is called “genus” and the second term is called “species.”
- When the scientific names are handwritten, they are underlined and when the scientific names are printed, they are printed in italics. This is done to indicate the Latin roots of binomial nomenclature.
- The first letter of the genus name starts with a capital letter and the first letter of the species name starts with a small letter.
Advantages of Binomial Nomenclature:
- The species can be easily classified and categorized. This process makes it easier to understand the characteristics and features of a particular species.
- The common names may create confusion among people. But, the advantage of scientific name is that each species have only one scientific name. So, there is no scope for confusion.
- The scientific names are standardised and accepted universally.
Disadvantages of Binomial Nomenclature:
- The scientific name consists of a genus part and a species part. There can be many species in a genus and many genera in a species. So, for common people, it will be very difficult to remember all these terms.
- If two or more names are in use, the name used first will be the correct one because the priority is given to the first name and other names end up being synonyms. There should be stability in naming and classifying organisms.
- The names used before Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae are not recognized.
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