Australian rules

I’ve been wrestling with spider taxonomy, and I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. You finally learn to recognize a common spider, and somebody comes along and turns the nomenclature upside down…like this recent case, where the genus Sitticus gets revised to be called Attulus. There’s good reasons for it — detailed molecular phylogeny clarifies relationships — but it’s still infuriating. I remember when Brachydanio rerio was revised to Danio rerio, and I’m still reading papers about Achaearanea tepidariorum despite the fact that we’re now supposed to call it Parasteatoda tepidariorum (at least zebrafish got revised to a shorter, easier to pronounce name).

So screw it. I’m just going to have to adopt the Australian rules for naming spiders.


  1. llyris says

    Lies! All huntsmans are called Mr Fuzzylegs. Except for the ones that show up In the bedroom – they’re called I Can’t Masturbate With You Watching Me.

  2. brightmoon says

    Lol . You haven’t looked at plants lately . A nice short genus name like Sedum gets changed to something like Hylosomethingorother . A plant I’ve known for 50 years as Scindapsus aureus (Golden pothos for you common name lovers) is now something unpronounceable that starts with E.

  3. davidc1 says

    Yeah ,them bastard scientists are taking the mick with all them Latin names ,for example
    Manx Shearwater
    Puffinus Puffinus .
    Atlantic Puffin
    Fratercula Arctica .
    Go figure as you amurians say.

  4. JustaTech says

    And then there are the joys of immunology, where some people call it CD80, but other people call it B7.1. And the textbooks all use the modern designation (CD) so you often just have to have someone who’s been in the field longer say “oh, yeah, B7.1 is the same thing as CD80, some people just haven’t gotten around to changing what they call it in papers”.

    silent screaming into the PubMed void

  5. nomdeplume says

    Australian rules – um, but, Huntsman are indeed big, but harmless; Black House Spiders are essentially harmless – the one you have to watch for under the bog seat is the Redback. But mouse spiders are indeed bastards.

  6. mossmjp says

    The moss I study just changed from Physcomitrella to Physcomitrium (assuming those pushing back against changing don’t stop it)

  7. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out the spiders and whatnot are not cheese, and hence their real original scientific name is all Non caseus, now Odiosis noncaseus.

  8. kaleberg says

    It could be worse. You could be working with species of harvestman:

    “In 1954, Roewer described a new species of harvestman named Metagagrella mysoreana (so named, I assume, because it came from Mysore). Metagagrella has since been synonymised with the older genus name Psathyropus, but most of the appropriate new combinations have not yet appeared in print. I was just entering in names for the Psathyropus section of the Palpatores nomenclator, which requires me to form said new combinations. However, because Psathyropus is a masculine name, I had to correct species name genders.


    “Psathyropus mysoreanus.”

  9. DanDare says

    Yep that’s the rules I’ve always used though they missed out the Sneaky Bastard that hides in your closet and curtains, and the In Your Face Bastard that builds communal webs right across the pathway that your about to walk along.

  10. auntbenjy says

    brightmoon @ 2

    My favourite nerdy botany story involves a genus common in NZ called Hebe. A new unclassified species was described, and for a bright, shining moment we had a genus named Hebejeebie. Then they all got reclassified as Veronica. Boring. :(