Sperm whale name change
Name: Courtney Walkowski
My question is why was the Sperm Whales' scientific changed from Physeter
Macrocefalus to Pyseter Catodon?
Hi Courtney, thanks for a really good question!
I'm not quite sure why the Sperm Whale's name was changed, but I'll
guess... People use scientific names for animals for a couple reasons
First of all, they are written in Latin, a language that can't be
misunderstood, no matter where you are from, so people from all
over the world can talk about the animal, even though they speak
different languages. Common names like
"Sperm Whale" are not as
good, because they change in different languages.
However, sometimes, people don't all agree on what the proper name of an
animal should be, and so they all get together and discuss what the
proper name should be. Sometimes, the scientists all agree that a name
should be changed. When this happens, as it did with the Sperm Whale, as
you noticed, usually, people write the old name in parentheses after the
new name, so everyone knows that the animal used to be called something
else. I hope this helps!
Tom F Ihde
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Update: June 2012