No researcher's work is spared not even Carl Linnaeus, who in the 1750s overcame an international scientific Tower of Babel when it came to naming species. He instituted the two-word Latin name, starting with the (capitalized) genus, followed by a (lowercase) specific epithet, a system used ever since. Thanks to his method of binominal nomenclature, what is dubbed a bulot in French fish markets, whelk in New England, buccin in Canada, and the Wellhornschnecke of the North Sea, is known universally to scientists as Buccinum undatum.
However, over time it emerged that Linnaeus assigned four names to the same species of sperm whale, a mistake caught years ago but which still appears in world literature and databases. The World Register will clarify for all time the valid name for that whale and all other marine species for future researchers, census takers and educators alike.
Says Philippe Bouchet, a Census scientist involved in WoRMS: "Describing species without a universal register in place is like setting up a library without an index catalog."
Discovery outstrips description capacity
Census of Marine Life and other explorers are finding unknown species at a rate much faster than the capacity to describe them due to a shortage of experts. Dr. Bouchet calculates that 3,800 taxonomists enter at least 1,4
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Census of Marine Life