Scientific v common names - a case study

Steve Tracey stracey at DIRCON.CO.UK
Wed Jul 17 00:16:43 CDT 1996

A common name can sometimes give a species the political muscle that its
scientific name can't muster, as seen in today's news:
In their ongoing battle to halt the construction of the Newbury bypass, the
protest movement here in England were looking for any endangered species
that might be living in the path of the proposed motorway.  Some months ago
they came up with a tiny 2mm wetland snail, Vertigo moulinsiana, widely
distributed in western Europe but decidedly local.   However, as very few
people had ever come across it, it had no well-established common name and
so could only get occasional coverage (invariably misspelt) in the local
press...  after all,  who could empathise with something so unglamorous?
   But then... someone was inspired to rename it Desmoulin's Whorl (!)
Fame, the tabloid press and TV followed, and only this morning this entire
colony of Desmoulin's Whorls was uprooted and transported down the road by
truck to a safe site, accompanied by a 70-strong police escort.

Just shows you.

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