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Old/Obscure Taxonomically Incorrect names for Animals

Discussion in 'Zoo Cafe' started by Cassidy Casuar, 17 Oct 2019.

  1. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    Out of interest, does anyone here know of any interesting obscure or old names for animals that are/were taxonomically incorrect?
    To clarify, I am not referring to very commonly-used names for animals. i.e. the New Zealand, Australian, and South American Bellbirds are not closely related to each other, but because they are all most commonly referred to as, 'Bellbirds', none of them count. Likewise, the American Robin is a Thrush and is not closely related to the European Robin that it is named after, but because it is most often referred to as a, 'Robin', it does not count. As a final example, the Magpie Goose is not in the same family as all other geese, but because it is most often referred to as a, 'Goose', it does not count.
    Obviously, alternate names that do not refer to a different species of animal do not count, either; e.g. Grey Jay = 'Whisky Jack', or Chimpanzee = 'Soko'.
    Here are some examples that I know of:

    -On Saint Helena island, the Brown Booby is sometimes called a, 'Duck', the Common Moorhen is sometimes called a, 'Water Duck', and the Red Fody is referred to as a, 'Cardinal', or a, 'Robin'.

    -'Soland Goose', and, 'Highland Goose', are both old names used to refer to the Northern Gannet in the UK.

    -The Corncrake had several archaic names that referred to it as a type of quail.

    -An alternate name for the Greater Coucal is, 'Crow Pheasant'.

    -An alternate name for the Hoatzin is/was, 'Canje Pheasant'.

    -I think that small brown birds are sometimes referred to as, 'Sparrows', in places where true Sparrows do not occur; an example of this is the Pitcairn Reed-warbler on Pitcairn Island.

    -The Bornean Bristlehead has previously been known as the, 'Bald-headed Crow', and, 'Bristled Shrike'.

    -In Australia, Quolls were at one time referred to as, 'Native Cats'.

    -In New Zealand, the Common Brushtail Possum is sometimes jokingly referred to as the, 'Tree Bear' (which is also the name given to their meat in the countries that their meat is exported to).
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2019
  2. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    An extinct marine animal was named 'Basilosaurus' ('king lizard' as it was assumed to be a reptile. When it was found to be a whale, zoologists tried to change its name to 'Zeuglodon' ('yolk tooth'), but this was not accepted, so the first name remains.
     
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  3. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    The most confusing example I can think of is Macheiramphus alcinus, a widely distributed bird of prey in most of Africa, south east Asia and Indonesia, which is crepuscular because it hunts bats at dusk and dawn. Older bird books call it the 'bat-eating buzzard', newer ones generally say 'bat hawk'. If you see one in flight, it looks like a falcon with long pointed wings. It is now generally classified with the kites!
     
  4. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    I think the most famous inaccurate names both belong to the thylacine, Tasmanian tiger and Tasmanian wolf.
     
  5. Rayane

    Rayane Well-Known Member

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    Guinea pigs ? In French they're even called cochons d'Inde, which translates to Indian pigs
     
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  6. Gondwana

    Gondwana Well-Known Member

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    That actually sounds more correct than the English version since they were domesticated by Native Americans (=Indians) and have nothing to do with West Africa (=Guinea)!

    Here are a few other examples. I assume the bison/buffalo and wapiti/elk/moose examples are well known.

    Peregrine Falcon -- formerly called "Duck Hawk" in North America
    Merlin -- formerly called "Pigeon Hawk" in North America
    American Kestrel -- formerly called "Sparrow Hawk" in North America
    Horned lizards -- often called "Horney Toads" in North America
    Galliwasp lizards -- called "Rana Lucia" (Rana meaning frog) in Dominican Republic
    any neotenic salamander -- often called "Water Dogs" in North America
    Walleye -- often called "Yellow Pike" or "Pickerel", especially in Canada
    Freshwater Drum/Sheepshead -- sometimes called "Silver Bass" or "Lavender Bass"
    Bowfin -- often called "Dogfish"
    Burbot -- lots of different colloquial names, the strangest of which might be "Poor Man's Lobster"
     
  7. Rayane

    Rayane Well-Known Member

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    Well, where Indians are indeed associated to North America, even in french, Inde (India) is only used when speaking about the country.
     
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  8. Gondwana

    Gondwana Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Then they're both wrong in different ways.
     
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  9. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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  10. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Jaguars are often called "tigres" ("tigers") or "pantera" ("leopard") in Spanish speaking Latin America and Pumas can be termed "leónes" ("Lions"). I've even heard smaller felines like ocelots and margay being termed as "tigres" in some parts.

    Similarly you have caimans of most species often being called "aligátor" ("Alligator") in Spanish speaking countries. I suppose this at least taxonomically forgiveable considering that caimans are closely related as part of the Alligatoridae familly.

    Coatimundis , grison and tayra are often called "Tejones" ("Badgers") in Central America. In Brazil the grison, which is often kept as a pet in a manner similar to the domesticated ferret/polecat (but ultimately in the long term highly unsuccesfully), is commonly called a "furão" ("ferret") by many.

    Anteaters of both the giant and tamandua varieties are called "oso hormigueros" ("ant bears") in many Spanish speaking parts. Conversely in Brazil the names of these species in Portuguese better reflect the taxonomic reality "Tamandua bandeira" and "Tamandua mirim"( respectively translating as "flag tamandua"= giant anteater & "little tamandua"= Southern tamandua).

    Sometimes the peccary is referred to as a "jabali" ("wild boar") but in areas where both peccary and feral domestic pigs occur there is a distinction made between the two.
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2019
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  11. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Some people call Puma concolor "Purple Feathers".
     
  12. Junklekitteb

    Junklekitteb Well-Known Member

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    I dont know if this is directly related, but I believe Melursus was originally describe as Bradypus ursinus and Paguma larvata and Herpestes urva were originally called Gulo.
     
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  13. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Do you know where the etymology/ the origin of that name comes from ?
     
  14. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    No idea.
     
  15. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    The king cobra is a cobra, isn't it?
     
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  16. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    Another one that's still in use in some places. Binturong as bearcat.
     
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  17. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    'Sparrow Hawk', is/was also an old name for the New Zealand Falcon in New Zealand, in addition to, 'Bush Hawk', and, 'Quail Hawk'.
     
    Last edited: 17 Oct 2019
  18. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    The 2 species of Picathartes are sometimes called Rockfowl and Bald crow - it however has nothing to do with fowl or crows ! Now-a-days they are placed into a family for their own but have long been placed taxonomiclly near the timalias.
    Even more intresting is the translation of the scientific name meaning "magpie-vulture".
     
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  19. Hipporex

    Hipporex Well-Known Member

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    Technically cobras belong to the genus Naja, but the king cobra is the sole member of the genus Ophiophagus.

    Also...
    • Any dinosaur with -saurus in its name it technically incorrectly named as -saurus is Greek for "lizard," and dinosaurs a) weren't lizard, b) weren't closely related to lizard, and c) didn't act like lizards. This is also true for pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, pliosaurs, plesiosaurs, and many other groups. The only extinct group this is technically is the mosasaurs, as mosasaurs were a type of a marine (and in some cases freshwater) lizard.
    • Parasaurolophus, a "duck-billed" dinosaur whose name means "near Saurolophus," was named so because it was originally thought to be closely related to Saurolophus, another "duck-bill," but we now know these two actually belonged to different subfamilies.
    • Procompsognathus wasn't closely related to Compsognathus.
    • Oviraptor means "egg thief." The genus was named because the holotype was discropvered atop a nest and was thought to of been stealing someone else's eggs when it died. We know now it was actually sitting on its own nest, like a modern bird.
    • When people here pterodactyl they picture a Pteranodon but pterodactly actually refers to Pterodactylus, a small fish-eating genus from Germany. Additionally this group of reptiles is often called "flying dinosaurs" despite the fact they're not dinosaurs (although they are closely related).
     
  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Nope; it IS in the larger Elapidae family which also contains true cobras and a variety of other taxa, but it is actually the sister genus to Dendroaspis, the mambas :) and is basal to the clade containing Naja and related genera.

    The "king" epithet refers to the fact that the species is ophiophagus, and preys on cobras and other snakes.