Drosophila, We Hardly Knew Ye

By Carl Zimmer | April 7, 2010 8:12 pm

Is Drosophila melanogaster, one of science’s favorite creatures, about to lose its name? Rex Dalton at Nature has the story of this taxonomic imbroglio.

[Image by André Karwath aka Aka via Flickr]


Comments (6)

  1. One good thing that might come of the name change is that people would refer to it using the accepted usage for all other species: Genus species on first reference, and then G. species.

    As it is now, except when they’re comparing it to other flies in the same genus, scientists very often refer to what should be D. melanogaster as simply Drosophila.

  2. Jim Kirkland

    Well, at least its not only paleontologists that dump well-known names of species.

    Give us a generation or so, and we will come to accept it.

  3. Daniel J. Andrews

    I’m having a “KHHHAAAANNNNNN!!” moment here. But Don makes a good point though. I’m guilty of calling it Drosophila at times. The name change could be a way to break the habit.

  4. Sophophora melanogaster means “dark-bellied bearer of wisdom”. I think that’s wonderfully appropriate for a model organism!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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