The Queen's Executioner

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 21 August 2010 08:21

Bryan Michie alerted me to this article in the Guardian. I think that to give this incredibly rare deadwood beetle the name Queen's Executioner is brilliant. I have always been drawn to the darker  side of natural history and this is a welcome addition. I strongly believe that the number of people studying, accessing and enjoying a taxanomic group is vastly increased when English names are available. The problem is that there have been some terrible attempts at naming whole group of species, often by an individual or a small group and I don't think that's really fair. The bryophytes and micro-moth English names are generally not used all that much. I find them as confusing as the Latin names and I think this is because they are terribly descriptive and taxanomic, they really lack the unusual names that really stick in your mind. With the fungus names, it worked, and this is because there were a lot of really odd names that did not fit into a taxanomic hierarchy. What this list of fungi names has done is leave us with a list of creative and memorable names that feel a little bit like they could have come together over hundreds of years of history, I love it!

I would like to see more Internet based projects to name large groups of species, I think it makes a difference to how we see things and in a time when conservationists frequently talk of the importance of wildlife people can engage with, I think it is essential. I can easily remember and recite Latin names but I find it easier with a mnemonic in use and the mnemonic is quite often the English name! Funny how remembering two bits of information is easier than one?!

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