Binomial nomenclatureThe internationally agreed and universally accepted system of naming species. It was invented by Linnaeus and consists of the application of a double scientific name to each species. The first name (the 'generic name') indicates the genus to which the species belongs and always has a capital initial. It is usually abbreviated to this letter after its first mention in a passage of text. The second name (the 'specific name') identifies the species itself and always has a small initial. Thus the scientific name of the Blue Tit is Parus caeruleus, while that of the Great Tit, which is placed in the same genus, is P. major. The same specific name may occur in more than one genus: for example, the Great Spotted Woodpecker has the scientific name Dendrocopos major. Also a species might have its generic and specific names the same, as in the Magpie Pica pica. Each combination, however, is unique. For naming subspecies the system of trinomial nomenclature is used.
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From Peter Weaver's Birdwatcher's Dictionary
Copyright © 1981 by Peter Weaver