[Taxacom] names for non-existing species

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Mon Mar 25 12:23:50 CDT 2013

Having read a fair bit of fantasy and science fiction over the years, 
all sorts of spurious "scientific names" appear scattered throughout the 
literature (including Harry Potter, IIRC), and I doubt that anyone has 
ever made a systematic attempt to compile a list of these, so what you 
are doing now - gathering anecdotes - is about the only way to manage 
this. It's hard to draw a line as to what is worthy of inclusion or 
not*. That being said, I can add a few things to the list that wouldn't 
show up in a search of conventional print sources:

There is an entire website devoted to the taxonomy of Occlupanids, 
http://www.horg.com/horg/ - constituting the single largest assemblage 
of pseudo-names I have ever seen other than "The Snouters", with full 
Linnaean hierarchy up to Kingdom (e.g., 

Nessiteras rhombopteryx - name coined for the Loch Ness Monster, an 
anagram of "monster hoax by Sir Peter S.", referring to Sir Peter Scott, 
who helped coin the name.

The fantasy game "Dungeons & Dragons" has published books of monsters, 
and some of these were given names, such as various dragons (e.g. "Draco 
conflagratio horribilis", "Draco rigidus frigidus", and "Draco causticus 

*While it may seem convenient to exclude the Warner Bros. "Road Runner" 
cartoons, they actually represent the most marginally Code-legal of all 
fictitious names. They were produced by a method of reproduction that 
ensured numerous identical durable copies, they included illustrations, 
and (rather importantly, compared to other fictitious names) they do in 
fact refer to real organisms, rather than "non-existing species"; the 
coyote and the road-runner. Essentially the ONLY clause in the Code that 
these names violate is Art. 8.1.1, which requires that names be 
published "for the purpose of providing a public and permanent 
scientific record". If not for that, a case could be made that they are 
all junior synonyms of the actual scientific names for those species. 
After all, the fact that the illustrations don't precisely match the 
actual appearance of the organism is true for a great number of very old 
and perfectly valid taxon names!

Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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