Books et al.TAXONOMY

What's in a name?

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Science  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6383, pp. 1472
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1491

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Summary

For those so inclined, taxonomy provides considerable material for dinner-party conversation. There is the species Agra schwarzeneggeri, the beetle with the "biceps-like" appendage named in honor of the physique of the famous Austrian bodybuilder (turned actor, turned politician). The genus of flatworms named Obama, however, does not refer to the former president. It is actually derived from the words for leaf and animal in the indigenous language Tupi. Michael Ohl's new book, The Art of Naming, intersects these unusual and amusing examples with more serious considerations of the craft. Ohl's is hardly the first book to explore taxonomy, but few others consider so many different aspects of it.