Scientific Names of Animals and Plants

Introduction to Binomial Nomenclature

Binomial nomenclature is a system of scientifically naming plants and organisms using Latin grammatical forms. The name assigned in this manner is called a scientific name, binomial name, binomen.

Each scientific name has two components, genus and species, also called descriptors/epithets. The first word refers to the genus to which the animal belongs and the second word to the species of the plant or animal. For example, ginger belongs to the genus Zingiber and within this genus to the species Zingiber officinale.

This system was formally introduced by Carl Linnaeus who attempted to name every known animal and plant. He published his work in various sections between 1735 and 1758. However, Gaspard Bauhin introduced the names of genera in his book Pinax theatri Botanici much earlier in 1623. Linnaeus adopted many of these names in his system.

In the modern system, there are certain rules that should be followed when writing scientific names of animals and plants. Genus should be capitalized while the species should be mentioned in lower case. Scientific names should be written in italics when mentioned in normal text. The names should be underlined if they are handwritten. The scientific name of Cucumber is Cucumis sativus Linnaeus.
The zoological names of animals and plants with common names are provided below.



Scientific Names of Animals

Common NameScientific Name
BadgerTaxidea taxus 
Mexican free-tailed bat Tadarida brasiliensis
Western mastiff bat Eumops perotis
American black bearUrsus americanus
North American beaverCastor canadensis
BobcatLynx rufus 
ChipmunkEutamias spp
American white-nosed coatiNasua narica 
CoyoteCanis latrans
Mule deerOdocoileus hemionus 
White-tailed deerOdocoileus virginianus
ElkCervus canadensis 
Gray FoxUrocyon cinereoargenteus 
Kit FoxVulpes macrotis 
Western pocket gophersThomomys spp
JavelinaPecari tajacu 
Mountain lionFelis concolor 
Cactus mousePeromyscus eremicus
Pinyon mousePeromyscus truei
Pocket mousePerognathus spp
MuskratOndatra zibethica 
North American River OtterLutra canadensis 
Gunnison's Prairie dogCynomys gunnisoni
North American PorcupineErethizon dorsatum 
Cottontail RabbitSylvilagus spp
Jack RabbitLepus spp
RacoonProcyon lotor 
Kangaroo RatDipodomys spp
Wood RatNeotoma spp
Ringtail Bassariscus astutus 
Bighorn sheepOvis canadensis 
Crawford's gray shrew Notiosorex crawfordi 
Vagrant ShrewSorex spp
Hog-nosed SkunkConepatus mesoleucus 
Hooded SkunkMephitis macroura 
Striped SkunkMephitis mephitis
Spotted SkunkSpilogale putorius 
Abert's SquirrelSciurus aberti 
Arizona gray SquirrelSciurus arizonensis
American Red SquirrelTamiasciurus hudsonicus
Long-tailed VoleMicrotus longicaudus 
Mexican VoleMicrotus mexicanus 
Montane VoleMicrotus montanus 
Mourning doveZenaida macroura 
White-winged doveZenaida asiatica 
Bald eagleHaliaeetus leucocephalus 
Golden eagleAquila chrysaetos 
Blue-gray gnatcatcherPolioptila caerulea 
Blue GrosbeakGuiraea caerulea 
Dusky GrouseDendragapus obscurus 
Cooper's hawkAccipiter cooperii 
Red-tailed hawkButeo jamaicensis 
Canada jayPerisoreus canadensis 
American kestrelFalco sparverius 
Elf owlMicrathene whitneyi 
Great-Horned owlBubo virginianus 
Brown pelicanPelecanus occidentalis 
American white pelicanPelecanus erythrorhynchos 
Band-tailed pigeonPatagioenas fasciata
Water pipitAnthus spinoletta 
Ring-necked pheasantPhasianus colchicas
Bobwhite quailColinus virginianus
Gambel's quailCallipepla gambelii
Scaled quailCallipepla squamata 
Greater roadrunnerGeococcyx californianus 
Yellow-billed sapsuckerSphyrapicus varius 
Chipping sparrowSpizella passerina 
Vesper sparrowPooecetes gramineus 
Plain TitmouseParus inornatus 
Wild turkeyMeleagris gallopavo 
Turkey vultureCarthartes aura 
Lucy's warblerVermivora luciae 
Acorn woodpeckerMelanerpes formicivorus 
Gila woodpeckerCenturus uropygialis 
Cactus wren, CactusCampylorhynchus brunneicapillus 
Canyon treefrogHyla arenicolor 
Western banded geckoColeonyx variegatus 
Desert iguanaDipsosaurus dorsalis 
Gila monsterHeloderma suspectum 
Common side-blotched lizardUta stansburiana 
Whiptail lizardCnemidophorus spp
Tiger salamanderAmbystoma tigrinum 
Western blind snakeLeptotyphlops humilis 
Pine snakePituophis melanoleucus 
Banded burrowing snakeChilomeniscus cinctus 
Arizona coral snakeMicruroides euryxanthus 
Checkered garter snakeThamnophis marcianus 
Glossy snakeArizona elegans 
Saddled leaf-nosed snakePhyllorhynchus browni 
Spotted leaf-nosed snakePhyllorhynchus decurtatus
Long-nosed snakeRhinocheilus lecontei 
Sonora shovel-nosed snakeChionactis palarostris 
Western shovel-nosed snakeChionactis occipitalis 
Whipsnake Masticophis flagellum 
Striped whip snakeMasticophis taeniatus 
Colorado River toadBufo alvarius 
Great Plains toadBufo cognatus 
Couch’s spadefoot toadScaphiopus couchi 
Western spadefoot toadScaphiopus hammondi 
Desert tortoiseGopherus agassizi 


Scientific Names of Plants

Common NameScientific Name
Money Plant, Devil's IvyEpipremnum aureum
PineappleAnanas comosus
NeemAzadhirachta indica
Green GramVigna radiata
Curry plant (leaves)Murraya koenigii
RadishRaphanus sativus
MangoMangifera indica
TulsiOcimum tenuiflorum
TobaccoNicotiana tabacum
TomatoSolanum lycopersicum
Black GramVigna mungo
GingerZingiber officinal
SpinachSpinacia oleracea
Navel OrangeCitrus sinensis
CarrotDaucas carota
LemonCitrus limon
CucumberCucumis sativas
WheatTriticum aestivum
Brinjal Solanum melongena
JowarSorghum bicolor
TurmericCurcuma longa
Red Gram/Pigeon peasCajanus cajan
OnionAllium cepa
Black PepperPiper nigrum
DrumstickMoringa oleifera
CapsicumCapsicum annuum
PotatoSolanum tubersum
GuavaPsidium guajava
MaizeZea mays
GarlicAllium sativum
SandalwoodSantalum album
BanyanFicus benghalensis
Henna (Mehndi)Lawsonia inermis
Watermelon Citrullus lanatus
Common bamboo Bambusa vulgaris
CloveSyzygium aromaticum
CorianderCoriandrum sativum
Lettuce Lactuca sativa


Scientific Names of Extinct Organisms

Common NameScientific Name
White River DolphinLipotes vexillifer
Western Black RinoDiceros bicornis longipes
Seychelles Balck TerrapinPelusios seychellensis
Brown PigtoePleurobema hagleri
Paradise ParrotPsephotus pulcherrimus
Round Island Birrowing BoaBolyeria multocarinata
Red GazelleGazella rufina
Dusky Flying FoxPteropus brunneus
Silver TroutSalvelinus agassizi
Deepwater CiscoCoregonus johannae
Blue PikeStizostedion vitreum glacum
Caribbean Monk SealMonachus tropicalis
Texas Red WolfCanis rufus rufus
Pig-footed BandicootChaeropus ecaudatus
Texas Gray WolfCanis lupus monstrabilis
Bali TigerPanthera tigris balica
Tasmanian TigerThylacinus cynocephalus
Passenger PigeonEctopistes migratorius
Atlantic Gray WhaleEschrichtius gibbosus gibbosus
Jamacian Red MacawAra gossei
Blue BuckHippotragus leucophaeus
Kangaroo Island EmuDromaius baudinianus
Madagascan Pygmy HippopotamusHippopotamus madagascariensis
Atlas BearUrsus arctos crowtheri
Great AukPinguinus impennis


Uses of Scientific Names

Scientific names were introduced to bring some clarity to the discussion of organisms. Without this system remembering the names will be extremely difficult. The system allows scientists to place a newly discovered animal or plant into related species or to create a new species if necessary. The system also helps scientists to discuss and eliminate misconceptions or errors in identifying the organism.

Scientific names are unique to each organism and related to that species that ever lived or is still living. It also applies to fossils to help identify and define the species. It helps scientists to have a discussion about the organism while examining and clarifying the attributes of each species.

In the absence of scientific names, each region might have a different common name of organisms making it complex to identify them. Binomial nomenclature eliminates the confusion by using a universal name. This helps scientists from one country to have a discussion with an expert from another country regarding an organism or plant using the scientific names.

Scientific names are easy to remember as they require only two specific words for each organism. The earlier classification system had multiple words making it difficult to memorize the names. It also simplifies the process of identifying the organisms.