What is Binomial Nomenclature or Binary Nomenclature? – Importance, Advantages and Disadvantages

Do you know what is Binomial Nomenclature? It is also known as Binary Nomenclature, read details about the importance, advantages and disadvantages.

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Binomial nomenclature is a two-term naming system composed of two different terms to characterise the plants, species, animals and living organisms. Binomial nomenclature is also known as Binary Nomenclature. Carl Linnaeus introduced the system of Binomial Nomenclature. 

He is known as the founder of modern taxonomy. His books are the start of modern biological nomenclature. They highlighted the rules for attributing names to plants and animals in a proper format.

Numerous local names make it problematic to recognise an organism worldwide and record the number of species, which creates a state of perplexion. A standard protocol is maintained to get rid of this confusion.

According to it, there is a standardised process to scientifically name every organism (plants, animals, microorganisms and other living things), which everyone would use to identify an organism. It is then known as Binomial Nomenclature.

The system states that each organism is commonly referred to by two names: the Genus name and the species name. These names are in Latin. The genus name and species name of an organism written together are called its scientific name. Following are some of the rules that are kept in mind while writing these:

a) The genus name always starts with a capital letter.

b) The name of the species begins with a small letter.

c) The scientific names are always written in italicised.

d) When it is handwritten, the genus name and species name have to be underlined.

Examples: Homo sapiens (‘Homo’ represents the genus and ‘sapiens’ means particular species), Helianthus annuus (Sunflower Plant), Panthera tigris (‘Panthera’ refers to the genus and ‘Tigris’ represents a specific species or specific epithet), Mangifera indica (Mango Plant), Canis lupus familiaris (Dog). Some more familiar names and their Binomial names:

Apple – Pyrus maleus, Banana – Musa paradiscium, Camel – Camelus camelidae

Carrot – Daucas carota, Cat – Felis catus

Deer – Artiodactyl Cervidae, Dog – Canis familiaris, Dolphin – Delphinidae delphis

Elephant – Proboscidea Elephantidae, Horse – Equus caballus

Two international codes are mutually agreed upon by all the biologists over the entire world for the naming protocol. These codes enable each organism to get a particular name and which is globally recognisable. They are listed below:

1) International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN): It manages the biological nomenclature for plants. 

2) International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN): It oversees the biological nomenclature of animals. They are responsible for ascertaining the proper framing of binomial names and what to do when naming conflicts. They give guidelines for the accurate citation of animal binomial names.

There are millions of species of organisms spread across the world. The same organisms are referred to by different names in different countries, and this can confuse when trying to recognise or classify. Binomial nomenclature proved to be vital in the scientific community. Through this system, taxonomists across the nations can identify a species in unison. Unlike the common names that can range from one language to another, a scientific name proved to be more consistent. Not only will scientists and taxonomists escape inconsistency issues, but they can also have an idea of the genus through which a species belongs, which can also include a picture of the attributes that members of the genus share. Therefore, binomial nomenclature was witnessed as a viable solution to this issue.

Disadvantages associated with Binomial Nomenclature:

a) If two or more names are in use, as per the law of priority, the correct name will be the one used first and the others last being synonyms as validity is the top synonym in this. Offering stability in the naming and classification of organisms must be focused on.

b) The names used before those consisting of the “Systema Naturae” by Linnaeus are not identifiable.