Organisms named after other organisms

Hummingbird Hawk-Moth, one of my recent obs. It is actually named after two birds!


but I call that a flying crayfish (since we have sunbirds not hummers)
And it most definitely has a fluffy crayfish tail!


I believe in Hong Kong we colloquially call it “Flying Shrimp”, though I’ve never referred to it using that term.

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Hummingbird Hawk-Moth is like a personal pet peeve of mine and actually one example as to why I prefer using binomials. “Hummingbird hawk-moth” seems to be the common name for Macroglossum stellatarum, but people seem to generally use that name for any member within that genus or even for other Sphingids vaguely resembling that genus, and for some reason it just confuses the hell out of me lol. I know this is off topic, but its too tempting for me not to share.


I will offer that this happens in scientific names, too.

Long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis

And then take the genus of that one and put it as the specific epithet of

Bufflehead Bucephala clangula

It happens across kingdoms, too. The most commonly cultivated species of genus Ficus (of plants), has “fruits” (technically receptacles) of a distinctive shape. And the genus Ficus (of gastropods) was named for their shell’s resemblance to those “fruits.”


My favorite example of this is kind of sneaky.

The european stag beetle is called Lucanus cervus, obviously after deer in the genus Cervus. This was the first stag beetle species to be described.

The giant stag beetle native to the US, which is similar to the european stag beetle but has larger jaws, is sometimes called the “elephant stag beetle” because its name is Lucanus elaphus. But it’s actually a reference to the the scientific name of the red deer, Cervus elaphus. The “elaphus” has nothing to do with elephants.

The other large stag beetle found in eastern North America, the reddish-brown stag beetle, is called Lucanus capreolus. “capreolus” means “goat”, and I think i’ve actually seen it referred to as the “goat beetle” in some book. But once again this is actually referring to a European deer species, the roe deer Cervus capreolus.

The roe deer is smaller than the red deer and has smaller antlers, and the reddish brown stag beetle has smaller mandibles than the giant stag beetle.

The european and reddish-brown stag beetle were described by Linnaeus himself, first the European stag beetle in 1758 then the reddish-brown in 1763, then Fabricius kept up the tradition by naming the giant stag beetle in 1775.


“Longan chicken” is pretty good! :D
It’s no chicken!

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I think Northern Right Whale Dolphin and Southern Right Whale Dolphin are some of the dumbest English species names I’ve ever heard, but I find them kind of endearing as well. I think it’s already weird that they’re named after right whales based on the lack of a dorsal fin and not any kind of ecological association. Bonus points for Southern Right Whale Dolphin containing “Southern Right Whale” without being specifically named after the Southern Right Whale


Welcome to the forum @okbirdman! :)


Thanks @daffydork!

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