Meaning of scientific names

Information, Taxonomy No Comments »

Scientific names are important for communicating specific species of tarantulas. As many people involved in the community know, there are many tarantulas with a common name of “red-knee,” “red-leg,” “earth-tiger,” etc. which can cause confusion as to the specific species to which one is referring. Another benefit of scientific names is that they cross languages–Acanthoscurria geniculata will be understood as a specific tarantula species by arachnologists and hobbyists alike in Brazil, Canada, Germany, South Korea, and the Philippines, as opposed to common names which are bound by language and even region. 

Around the 18th century, the naming system developed–binomial nomenclature (technically only used for plants, as binominal is used for zoology, but it is commonly accepted to use binomial with zoology nowadays). This two-part naming system includes the genus and species to distinguish each species within the genus. In the 19th century, a governing body developed in order to keep the scientific names in a consistent format with a series of codes and rules for describing each species: International Code of Zoological Nomenclature or ICZN. This body regulates:

  • How names are correctly established in the frame of binominal nomenclature
  • Which name must be used in case of name conflicts
  • How scientific literature must cite names

It does take a while to learn them, and there is a learning curve associated with learning scientific names, but many people do not realize that every genus and species name have meaning behind them. 

Most scientific name sources are either:

-Latin (e.g. Avicularia)

-Greek (e.g. Poecilotheria)

-Locale specific (such as area of species discovery, e.g. Aphonopelma madera (Madera Canyon, AZ)) 

-People (such as taxonomist, biologists, individuals who discovered species, naturalists, etc. e.g. Brachypelma smithi or Psednocnemis jeremyhuffi)

-Other languages (e.g. genus Nhandu or Tliltocatl


Here are some elements of scientific names using both Latin and Greek roots:

  • acantho: “thorn,” from ancient Greek ἄκανθος (ákanthos)
  • albo: “white,” from Latin albus
  • aphono: “silent,” from ancient Greek ἄφωνος (áphōnos)
  • auratum: “golden,” from Latin
  • Avicularia: “bird-catcher,” from Latin aviculārius
  • brachy: “short,” from ancient Greek βρᾰχῠ́ς (brăkhŭ́s)
  • centro: “spike,” from ancient Greek κέντρον (kéntron)
  • cephalus: “head,” from ancient Greek κεφαλή (kephalḗ)
  • cerato: “horn” or “horned,” from ancient Greek κέρας (kéras)
  • chalco: “copper” or “brass,” from ancient Greek χαλκός (khalkόs)
  • chilo/chilus: “lip,” from ancient Greek χεῖλος (kheĩlos)
  • chromato: “color,” from ancient Greek χρῶμα (khrō̃ma)
  • cyaneo: “deep blue,” from Latin
  • dolicho: “long,” from ancient Greek δολῐχός (dolĭkhόs)
  • ephebo: “youthful,” from ancient Greek ἔφηβος (éphēbos)
  • eu: “good,” from ancient Greek εὖ (eũ)
  • fasciata: “banded,” from Latin
  • grammo: “lined” or “striped,” from ancient Greek γραμμοποίκιλος (grammopoíkilos)
  • gyrus: “circle,” from ancient Greek γῦρος (gũros)
  • haplo: “simple” or “single,” from ancient Greek ᾰ̔πλόος (ă̔plόos)
  • hetero: “different” or “other,” from ancient Greek ἕτερος (héteros)
  • holo: “whole” or “complete,” from ancient Greek ὅλος (hólos)
  • idio: “distinct” or “peculiar,” from ancient Greek ἴδιος (ídios)
  • laeta: “happy,” from Latin
  • lividum: “blue or leaden in color,” from Latin
  • maculatus/maculata: “stained” or “spotted,” from Latin
  • metallica: “metallic,” from Latin
  • minax: “threatening” or “menacing,” from Latin
  • mira/miranda: “marvelous,” from Latin
  • mono: “one,” from ancient Greek μόνος (mόnos)
  • murinus: “mouselike” or “mouse-grey,” from Latin
  • neo: “new,” from ancient Greek νέος (néos)
  • ornata: “ornate,” from Latin
  • pelma: “sole (of the foot),” from ancient Greek πέλμᾰ (pélmă)
  • pes/pus: “foot,” from Latin
  • pilosum: “hairy” or “haired,” from Latin
  • plumi: “feather,” from Latin
  • poda: “foot” or “leg,” from ancient Greek πούς (poús)
  • poecilo: “spotted” or “variegated,” from ancient Greek ποικῐ́λος (poikĭ́los)
  • psalmo: “psalm” or “song,” from ancient Greek ψαλμός (psalmόs)
  • ptero: “wing” or “feather,” from ancient Greek πτερόν (pterόn)
  • pubescens: “hairy,” from Latin
  • pulcher/pulchra: “beautiful,” from Latin
  • purpurea: “purple,” from Latin
  • regalis: “regal” or “kingly,” from Latin
  • rosea: “rose-colored,” from Latin
  • scurria: “clownish?” from Latin scurra
  • stola: “clothing,” from ancient Greek στολᾱ́ (stolā)
  • striata/striatum: “striped” or “grooved,” from Latin
  • thele: “teat” or “nipple,” from ancient Greek θηλή (thēlḗ)
  • theria: “beast,” from ancient Greek θηρίον (thēríon)
  • thrixo: “hair,” from ancient Greek θρῐ́ξ (thrĭ́x)
  • urticans: “having nettles (urticating hairs),” from Latin
  • vagans: “wandering,” from Latin
  • versicolor: “multicolored,” from Latin

The first part of the name, which identifies the genus, must be a word which can be treated as a Latin singular noun in the nominative case. It must be unique within the purview of each nomenclatural code.

The second part of the name, which identifies the species within the genus, is also treated grammatically as a Latin word. It can have one of a number of forms:

  • The second part of a binomial may be an adjective. The adjective must agree with the genus name in gender. Latin has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, shown by varying endings to nouns and adjectives. The skeleton-leg tarantula has the binomial name Ephebopus murinus. Here “murinus” simply means the adjective “mouse-like” both endings agreeing in masculine. The name for the Brazilian black tarantula,  Grammostola pulchra (“pulchra” meaning beautiful) , agrees in feminine endings of the words. The Mexican species Cyclosternum palomeranum, described by Rick C. West in 2000, has both nominative neuter endings for genus and species. Cyclosternum is the only genus of tarantula that has a nominative neuter ending thus far. Some common endings for Latin adjectives in the three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) are -us, -a, -um (as in the previous example of murinus); -is, -is, -e (e.g. tristis, meaning “sad”); and -or, -or, -us (e.g. minor, meaning “smaller”). For further information, look up Latin declension of adjectives.
  • The second part of a binomial may be a noun in the nominative case. An example is the binomial name of the Texas tan tarantula, which is Aphonopelma anax. The species name being Greek for “tribal chief” or “military leader.” Grammatically the noun is said to be in apposition to the genus name and the two nouns do not have to agree in gender; in this case, Aphonopelma is feminine and anax is masculine.
  • The second part of a binomial may be a noun in the genitive (possessive) case. The genitive case is constructed in a number of ways in Latin, depending on the declension of the noun. Common endings for masculine and neuter nouns are -ii or -i in the singular (Brachypelma hamorii) and -orum (Birupes simoroxigorum) in the plural, and for feminine nouns -ae (Avicularia merianae) in the singular and -arum (e.g. Euathlus tenebrarum) in the plural. 

Whereas the first part of a binomial name must be unique within the purview of each nomenclatural code, the second part is quite commonly used in two or more genera (e.g. murinus in both genera Pterinochilus and Ephebopus ). The full binomial name must be unique within each code. Because the species names that are adjectival agree with the genus name, it’s important for them to have adjectival agreement with the genus. This means when there is a new description paper published and a species is redescribed into another genus (e.g. Brachypelma albopilosum was redescribed as Tliltocatl albopilosus) sometimes the Latin suffix of the species name will change as well to agree with with genus change.


Maybe knowing more about these scientific names will have you noticing different features of your tarantulas, or may remind you of the regions they come from or people that described them.




Rear Horned Baboon Tarantula (Ceratogyrus darlingi)

Ceratogyrus 8 Comments »

The Rear Horned Baboon tarantula (Ceratogyrus darlingi) or sometimes referred to as the Burst Horned Baboon is an Old World (OW) arachnid from the southern parts of Africa. Indigenous to Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe they grow to be about 4.5 to 5 inches in size with females being a lot bigger then their male counterparts. This is a very fast growing species. Females are known to live 10 to 15 years while males can mature within 2 years and typically live between 2 and 4 years. This is one of the most common Ceratogyrus species in the hobby highly admired due to its carapace/peltidium featuring a black slightly reared foveal horn. The Rear Horned Baboon tarantula’s coloring are ash gray, mud-brown to black.

Rear Horned Baboon tarantula

(Photo credit: @arachnophobaea)

Habitat: The rear horned baboon (Ceratogyrus darlingi) is an obligate burrower and terrestrial tarantula. As slings they should be kept in damp substrate in small vials and as they grow in deli cups. This is a very fast growing tarantula and you can expect a few molts a year until they reach maturity. Fully grown they only need about a 5 gallon tank with a somewhat dry substrate. Be sure to add plenty of substrate as this tarantula will start burrowing and tunneling within days of being housed. You can add a starter hide which may or may not get used. A water dish should be available and it is recommended to overfill this at least once a week. Temperature should be kept around 78° to 80° F with a humidity of 60% to 70%. This tarantula is notorious for webbing up its home and you will notice that right away.


Feeding: This tarantula eats EVERYTHING you throw its way. A steady diet of crickets, roaches, locusts, and other insects should be fine. They are ferocious and will pounce on anything even when they’re small little slings. As always feed your tarantula about once a week and be sure to remove any prey if not touched after 24 hours. If your tarantula is in pre-molt stages do not feed and wait at least a week and a half to re-feed after it molts.


Attitude: Being that Ceratogyrus darlingi is an Old World tarantula they are known for being aggressive. They do not come equipped with urticating hairs and rely on their bite and venom for protection. Though this is a very common species in the hobby we do not recommend this being a beginner tarantula at all. Their venom is equivalent to a bee sting but can still pack a punch. Common symptoms of a bite include; nausea, muscle aches, headache. If an allergic reaction occurs seek medical attention.


Do you have a Ceratogyrus darlingi ? Comment below!

Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens)

Chromatopelma, New World 1 Comment »

The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula also known as the GBB tarantula is a great specimen from Venezuela. These tarantulas are widely known for their unique coloring which includes an orange abdomen blueish green carapace and metallic blue legs. Though they are not necessarily docile they are great for beginner/intermediate hobbyists because of how little maintenance is needed to care for these as pets. In addition they are showcase animals who spend most of their time just sitting out in the open for people to marvel at their vibrant colors. They grow to be about 6 to 8 inches and grow at a speedy rate. Males live to be about 3 to 5 years while females live to be between 10 to 13 years old (though some have lived to be older).





The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula come from a very dry place in Venezuela and spend most of their lives burrowed underground. You are going to want to have a well ventilated enclosure, preferably a terrarium tank with top screen lid. Full grown Greenbottle Blue tarantulas will be fine with just a 10 gallon tank. You are going to want to make sure it has more room to crawl then to climb as they are terrestrial. Make sure you add about 4 to 5 inches of substrate so that they can burrow. Your going to want a lightly damp substrate (more dry then damp) of preferably coconut fiber. A hide should also be added though chances are it will just burrow and not use it at all.  You will see its burrow covered in webbing which it will actually change from time to time. You should also have a shallow water dish with clean water at all times. As for temperature you will be looking at anywhere between 72 to 80 degrees with a humidity level of about 75 percent.



The Greenbottle Blue Tarantula has a fast appetite! it will not give you any eating problems. Its diet should consist of cockroaches, crickets, mealworms and locusts. Juveniles should be feed twice a week while older adults only once a week. You will see that this animal will grow steady.



Though you can easily handle the Greenbottle Blue tarantula it is certainly a very skittish type. It comes with urticating hairs and will easily strike a defense pose should you startle him. Their venom is mildly potent but should not be an issue unless you have certain allergies. Handling should be done with care as they are also very fast spiders.


To conclude it will be a great display animal due to its great colors but we recommend not handling so much. Great for any hobbyist collection.