In the written world of botany and fungi, authors quite often include phonetic marks to inform us which syllable to put pressure on to pronounce the species names correctly. However, regarding zoology, I have yet to find the same kind of treatment, in any litterature I have read.
I am aware of the rules, or - more correctly - I know that rules exist, but I am also certain that a lot of exceptions follow them around...
For the moment, I am working on several bird reports, and as I sit here, spelling out the latin names for my self as I put them down, I get quite a bit tormented not knowing if I should be embarressed of my self or not.
I am very eager to get the accent right once and for all, both of my tounge and of my fingertips. So, what I hope for, is a webpage that explain the rules in an easily understandable way, and even more - a list of european birds with all the necassery letter markings needed to pronounce their names in an venerable manner.

With hopeful regards


In general, there is no single correct pronouncement of zoological names.

I think this is a shame, so in my own nomenclatural work I have bucked the trend and included pronunciation guides. In doing this, I am following Jerry Harris, whose paper describing Suuwassea states that it's pronounced "SOO-oo-WAH-see-uh". My own dinosaurs are Xenoposeidon ("ZEE-no-puh-SYE-d’n") and Brontomerus ("Bron?toe?MEER?us").

You might notice that all three of these are sauropods. I'd love to see the practice of pronunciation guides extended to all zoological nomenclature, but I am kind of glad that it started with the most awesome animals of all!


Harris, J. D. and Peter Dodson. 2004. A new diplodocoid sauropod dinosaur from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Montana, USA. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 49(2):197-210. [Suuwassea]

Taylor, Michael P. and Darren Naish. 2007. An unusual new neosauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Hastings Beds Group of East Sussex, England. Palaeontology 50(6):1547-1564. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2007.00728.x [Xenoposeidon]

Taylor, Michael P., Mathew J. Wedel and Richard L. Cifelli. 2011. A new sauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56(1):75-98. doi: 10.4202/app.2010.0073 [Brontomerus]

Yes I'm afraid this is a problem, and I do come across colleagues both from the UK and other countries who pronounce some names very differently to me. This is then compounded by the fact that a lot of scientific names are not Latin but Greek, and also include things from the roots of many other languages - Aztez, Mongolian, Mandarin, African languages and more - which means the 'correct' pronunciation can be even harder to work out.