Scientific names

To: Martin Cake <>
Subject: Scientific names
From: Dave Torr <>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2014 16:05:07 +1100
My understanding Martin (and I am not an expert at all) is that the
specific name is usually construed as an adjective which modifies the genus
part of the name. The laws of Latin gender apply and if a bird is moved
from a "masculine" gender to a "feminine" one (a strange concept that we do
not have in English) then I believe that the specific part may be modified
accordingly? So it is not true that it never changes - but usually the
change is a minor one on the ending of the word?

But I agree it does not happen very often!

On 5 March 2014 15:22, Martin Cake <> wrote:

> Mike I take your point but I'm not sure I agree with your premise that
> vernacular names are more 'useful'.
> I realise this is a wellworn topic but for the sake of answering Steve's
> request for clarification (and defending the taxonomists!):
> Look again at Steve's question and you will note the specific name
> (species epithet) of the bird in question has not changed - basalis.
> Nor will it ever change for the type population (which I think is our
> Australian bird?) as there are strict rules of precedence, unless disputed
> due to obscure early synonyms. So the specific name is in fact very very
> stable - arguably more so than the vernacular.
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