Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Puns: Onomatopoeia

Some names are or seem to be onomatopoeic representations of the animals' call.

Anas crecca Linnaeus (common teal)
Cettia cetti (Cetti's warbler) Apparently named after an 18th century Italian zoologist; coincidentally it continually sings its name.
Crex crex (corncrake)
Cuculus (cuckoo)
Eleutherodactylus coqui Thomas, 1966 (Puerto Rican frog, the coquí) Named for the male's call. The first syllable, the "co", is heard only by males of the species and establishes ranges; the "qui" is an octave higher and attracts females.
Equus quagga Gmelin 1788 (extinct South African zebra variant) The Khoikhoi word "quahah" is an imitation of the animal's cry, "kwa-ha-ha, kwa-ha-ha," quickly repeated.
Gekko (gecko) The name comes from the lizard's vocalization.
Lullula Linnaeus 1758 (woodlark)
Ninox boobook (Latham, 1801) (mopoke, an Australian owl) "Mopoke" and "boobook" imitate the same call.
Peliperdix coqui (Smith, 1836) (bird)
Pterodroma cahow (Nichols & Mowbray, 1916) (Bermuda petrel)
Roncador Jordan & Gilbert, 1880 (croaker) The name is from Spanish for "snorer", which is ultimately imitative in origin.
Streptopelia decaocto Frivaldszky, 1838 (Eurasian collared dove) Its specific epithet translates from Greek as "ten eight" and comes from the bird's call. In Greek fable, the divinely sent bird announced the inadequate salary of a servant girl.
Streptopelia turtur (turtle dove) Its scientific and common names derive from its "turr, turr" call.
Surnia ulula (northern hawk owl)
Torotix Brodkob, 1963 [nomen dubium] From an imitation of a bird's cry attributed to a flamingo by the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes in his play "The Birds." The type specimen, a fossil femur, was originally identified as belonging to a Cretaceous flamingo; its true classification is disputed.
Upupa epops Linnaeus, 1758 (hoopoe) Epops is a character in Aristophanes' "Birds"; she says "Epopoi popopopoi..."

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