I know that organizations such as the ICN, ICZN, and ICNP dictate how organisms should be named scientifically, including common names. However, if one just looks for a while at iNatrualist or any other site that lists species, many of these entries do not have common names. For scientists, who regularly use scientific nomenclature, they are fine with using names like Chaos chaos or Cyanocitta cristata since they use scientific nomenclature all the time. However, for ordinary people, these names sound like gibberish and have no apparent connection to the actual organism. I say no apparent connection because the Latin names are supposed to be an accurate description of the specimens in question. Of course, the problem with giving common names is that they can vary widely from country to country, or even from one local area to another.
For instance, Peppered Moths, Biston betularia, are also colloquially called the Salt-and-Pepper Geometer. While it is understandable to try and differentiate moths based on Families, is it really necessary to have the word Geometer in its common name? Even the word Moth or Butterfly refers to the Order Lepidoptera. So if I decided to call the Peppered Moth the Salt-and Pepper Geometer Moth, I would be specifying the Order, Family, and Species. Again, for ordinary people, they only want a name to distinguish one organism from another. They may or may not be appreciative of the use of names which include taxonomic nomenclature.
I propose that this post could be a place to come to a consensus for common names of organisms that currently have none. This is different from the “If you could rename an existing species” post, https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/if-you-could-rename-an-existing-species/6554, in that the community is also trying to come to a consensus of names for everyone to use. This consensus common name could even be sent to the organizations that regulate the naming process for potential official use. Using the Peppered Moths in America as an example, let us see how this process would look like.
In America, there are two subspecies of Peppered Moths - Biston betularia cognataria and Biston betularia contrasta. Below is a picture of each of them.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60393954 by @chloejreid
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3717789 by @jimjohnson
I have read other posts related to this topic which state that common names of species reflected colonialism and that a better way to come up with common names would be something that reflected the local culture, but it could still be understood by those outside of that local culture.
In this case, referring to the subspecies as Greater American Peppered Moth and Lesser American Moth, respectively, would make sense. But do these names accurately reflect the morphological differences between them? Contrasta has very little spotting or wing patterns, and is very white when compared any specimen of cognataria, even the typica morphs. Keeping in mind that Native Americans were the original inhabitants of the Americas, it would seem prudent to name the subspecies using Native American languages. However, unlike modern day America, which has a united language of English, each Native American culture had a unique language. Even the Algonquin peoples, one of the most widespread Native American cultures in North America, mostly occupied Canada and northern parts of the United States. To try to make all Native American cultures happy with a name would be impossible using their native languages.
So, what names would solve this quandary? Many Native American cultures, when interacting with English speaking people, would have people with names such as Sitting Bull. I am not an expert in Native American cultures or languages, so these names that I come up with may be totally wrong, but to my knowledge, I think naming the subspecies Hidden-Stars and Living-Ghost would be appropriate. Hidden-Stars for Biston betularia cognataria makes sense because if you look at the Peppered Moth, the colored wing background could be like the night sky, and the spots could be like stars being hidden by the wavy lines, which are like clouds or the Aurora Borealis. Living-Ghost for Biston betularia contrasta makes sense because it looks pale like a ghost, and since it is rare, a person would be surprised to find a living specimen at all.
Now that I have proposed these names, the community can deliberate on it. I do not know now what the cut-off point would be for a consensus, but once achieved, it could be used on the iNaturalist website and sent to the ICZN for possible official use.
What do you think? (Also, sorry for the long post. I really like writing essays, so this is reflective of the fact that I like to make long posts.)