All organisms have a double-barreled (“binomial”) scientific name written in Latin. On this website we use the scientific names of sharks in our species descriptions, for the same reason that scientists do. The binomial name is unique for each species, enabling people to be certain they are talking about the exactly the same creature, no matter what language of the world they may happen to speak (the genius of this naming system is credited to the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus).
The first part of the Latin name represents the genus, and the second part identifies the species within the genus. (E.g. we humans are Homo sapiens). More broadly, organisms are classified according to a hierarchy of taxonomic groupings, or rankings, as follows. Let’s use the Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, as an example:
- Kingdom: Animalia (all animals)
- Phylum: Chordata (all chordates)
- Class: Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
- Order: Lamniformes (mackerel sharks)
- Family: Lamnidae (mackerel/white sharks)
- Genus: Carcharodon
- Species: C. carcharias
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