Meanings of scientific names of wild and domesticated mammals of Arkansas.


Aeorestes—from the Greeke Greek aiōreō meaning “to hover, flit about” and edestēs meaning “an eater.”

                cinereus—Latin for “ashen” or “gray.”

Baiomys—from the Greek baios meaning “slim, small, feeble” and mys meaning “mouse.”

                taylori—a patronym honoring William Taylor who provided many specimens of rare rodents to the British Museum of Natural History

Bassariscus—Greek for “little fox.”

                astutus—Latin for “cunning.”

Bison—Greek for “wild ox.”

Blarina—a coined name (a made-up word).

                carolinensis—means “of Carolina,” a reference to the origin of the type specimen.

                hylophaga—from the Greek hylo meaning “woods” and phag meaning “to eat.” 

Bos—Latin for “ox.”

                taurus—Latin for “bull.”

Canis—Latin for “dog.”

                familiaris—Latin for “domestic or home-like.”

                latrans—Latin for “barker.”

                rufus—Latin for “red.”

Capra—Latin for “she goat.”

                hircus—Latin for “goat.”

Castor—Greek for “beaver.”

                canadensis—Latin for “of Canada.”

Cavia—etymology unclear; perhaps from the Galibi Indian word cabiai, meaning “cavy.”

                porcellus—Latin for “little pig.”

Cervus—Latin for “deer.”

                canadensis—Latin for “of Canada.”

Chaetodipus—from the Latin chaeto, meaning “long flowing hair,” the Greek di, meaning “two,” and the Greek pus, meaning “foot.”

                hispidus—Latin for “rough.”

Corynorhinus—from the Greek coryn, meaning “club,” and rhinos, meaning “nose.”

                rafinesquii—patronym for Constantine S. Rafinesque, an early American naturalist.

               townsendii—patronym for Dr. John K. Townsend, an American naturalist of the 19th Century.

Cryptotis—Greek for “hidden ear.”

                parva—Latin for “small.”

Dasypterus—from the Greek dasys meaning “hairy, shaggy” and pteron meaning “wing,” a reference to the furred uropatagium.

                intermedius—Latin for “intermediate.”

Dasypus—Greek for “hairy foot.”  Armadillos do not have hairy feet; Linnaeus may have meant “rough-footed.”

                novemcinctus—Latin for “nine-banded.”

Didelphis—Greek for “double womb,” referring to the paired uteri.

                virginiana—refers to Virginia, origin of the type specimen.

Eptesicus—Latin for “house flier.”  Big brown bats often live in houses.

                fuscus—Latin for “brown.”

Equus—Latin for “horse.”

                asinus—Latin for “fool.”

                caballus—Latin for “pack horse.”

Felis—Latin for “cat.”

                silvestris—Latin for “of the woods.”

Geomys—from the Greek ge or geo, meaning “earth,” and mys, meaning “mouse.”

                breviceps—from the Latin brevis, meaning “short,” and cepha, meaning “head.”

                bursarius—Latin for “purse-bearer,” referring to the cheek pouches.

Glaucomys—from the Greek glaukos, meaning “gray,” and mys, meaning “mouse.”

                volans—Latin for “flying.”

Ictidomys—from the Greek iktidos meaning “a weasel” and myos meaning “mouse,” probably referring to shape of the body.

                tridecemlineatus—Latin for “thirteen-lined.”

Lama—from the Quechua Indian word for the animal, llama.

                glama—possibly from the Latin for “bleary-eyed.”

Lasionycteris—from two Greek words, lasios, meaning “hairy,” and nycteris, meaning “bat.”

                noctivagans—from the Latin nox, meaning “night,” and vagans, meaning “wanderer.”

Lasiurus—from the Greek lasios, meaning “hairy,” and oura, meaning “tail,” a reference to the heavily furred uropatagium.

                borealis—Latin for “northern.”

                seminolus—refers to the Seminole Indians, who lived in the region where the type specimen was obtained.

Leopardus—from the Greek leo, meaning “lion,” and pardus, meaning “panther.”

                pardalis—Greek for “leopard.”

Lepus—Latin for “hare.”

                californicus—Latin for “of California,” referring to the collection point of the type specimen.

Lontra—Latin for “otter.”

                canadensis—Latin for “of Canada.”

Lynx—Greek for “bobcat.”

                rufus—Latin for “red.”

Marmota—Latin for “marmot” or “groundhog.”

                monax—from an American Indian name for the woodchuck that means “the digger.”

Mephitis—Latin for “smelly.”

Mesocricetus—from the Greek meso, meaning “middle,” and the Latin cricetus, meaning “hamster.”

                auratus—Latin for “gold.”

Microtus—from the Greek mikros, meaning “small,” and otus, meaning “ear.”

                ochrogaster—from the Greek ochro, meaning “yellow,” and gaster, meaning “belly.”

                pinetorum—Latin for “belonging to the pines.”

Mus—Latin for “mouse.”

                musculus—Latin for “little mouse.”

Mustela—Latin for “weasel.”

                frenata—from the Latin frenum, meaning “bridle,” referring to the facial markings.

                putorius—from the Latin putor, meaning “a foul odor.”

Myocaster—Greek for “mouse beaver.”

                coypus—from the Araucanian Indian language of Chile and Argentina.  The word for the nutria in this language is “coypu.”

Myotis—from the Greek words mys, meaning “mouse,” and otus, meaning “ear.”

                austroriparius—from two Latin words, austro, meaning “southern,” and riparius, which means “frequenting the banks of streams.”

                grisescens—from the Latin word griseus, meaning “becoming gray.”

                leibii—a patronym recognizing George Leib, collector of the type specimen.

                lucifugus—Latin for “to flee from light.”

                septentrionalis—Latin for “northern.”

                sodalis—Latin for “companion,” referring to the habit of hibernating in large numbers.

Neotoma—from the Greek neos, meaning “new,” and tomos, meaning “cut.”  This refers to the fact that it was a new kind of mammal with cutting teeth, distinguishing it from Mus, to which it was originally assigned.

                floridana—Latin for “of Florida,” where the type specimen was collected.

Neovison—from the Greek neos, meaning “new,” and the Swedish word for weasel.

                vison—probably from the Swedish word for “weasel.”

Notiosorex—from the Greek notio, meaning “southern,” and the Latin sorex, meaning “shrew.”

                crawfordi—named after the collector of the holotype, S. W. Crawford.

Nycticeus—Latin for “belonging to the night.”

                humeralis—Latin for “of the forelimb.”

Ochrotomys—from the Greek ochra, meaning “pale yellow” or “gold,” and mys, meaning “mouse.”

                nuttalli—a patronym for Thomas Nutall, an early American naturalist.

Odocoileus—from the Greek odous, meaning “tooth,” and koilos, meaning “hollow,” referring to prominent depressions in the molar teeth.

                virginianus—Latin for “of Virginia,” referring to the point of collection of the type specimen.

Ondatra—Indian name for the muskrat.

                zibethicus—Latin for “musky-odored.”

Oryctolagus—from the Greek orycto, meaning “one who digs,” and lagos meaning “hare.”

                cuniculus—Latin for “rabbit.”

Oryzomys—from the Greek oryza, meaning “rice,” and mys, meaning “mouse.”

                palustris—Latin for “marshy.”

Ovis—Latin for “sheep.”

                aries—Latin for “ram.”

Perimyotis—from the Greek word peri, meaning “about” or “around,” referring to the fact that this bat is closely related to the genus Myotis.

                subflavus—from the Latin sub, meaning “below,” and flavus, meaning “yellow.”

Peromyscus—from the Greek pero, meaning “pointed,” and myskos, meaning “little mouse,” probably referring to the shape of the skull.

                attwateri—a patronym for Henry Attwater, a Canadian naturalist who worked extensively in Texas.

                gossypinus—Latin for “of the cotton.”

                leucopus—from the Greek leukon, meaning “white,” and pous, meaning “foot.”

                maniculatus—Latin for “small handed.”

Poliocitellus—from the Greek polios meaning “hoary” or “gray” and the Latin citellus meaning “a ground squirrel.” 

                franklinii—a patronym for Sir John Franklin, British naval officer who led expeditions to the Arctic between 1818 and 1826.

Procyon—Latin for “before dog.”  The ancestors of dogs were once believed to be raccoons.

                lotor—from the Latin lutor, meaning “a washer,” referring to the racoon’s habit of manipulating its food in water.

Puma—from a Peruvian Indian word for the animal.

                concolor—Latin for “one color.”

Rattus—Latin for “rat.”

                norvegicus—Latin for “of Norway.”  However, this rat is native to Asia, not Norway.

                rattus—Latin for “rat.”

Reithrodontomys—from the Greek reithron, meaning “groove,” odous, meaning “tooth,” and mys, meaning “mouse,” thus “groove-toothed mouse.”

                fulvescens—from the Latin fulvus, meaning “reddish yellow.”

                humulis—from the Latin humilis, meaning “small.”

                megalotis—from the Greek megas, meaning “large,” and ous, meaning “ear.”

                montanus—from the Latin mons, meaning “mountain.”

Scalopus—from the Greek words skalops, meaning “to dig,” and pous, meaning “foot,” referring to the animals’ digging feet.

                aquaticus—Latin for “water dweller.”  Linnaeus named the animal from a specimen and knew nothing of its habits; he assumed that because it had webbed feet, the mole was aquatic.

Sciurus—Latin for “squirrel.”

                carolinenesis—Latin for “of Carolina.”

                niger—Latin for “black.”

Sigmodon—from the Greek sigma, the Greek letter “S,” and odous, meaning “tooth.”  This refers to the S-shaped cusp pattern on the last molar.

                hispidus—Latin for “rough,” referring to the pattern of the fur.

Sorex—Latin for “shrew.”

                longirostris—Latin for “long snout.”

Spilogale—from the Greek spilos, meaning “spot,” and gale, meaning “weasel.”

                putorius—from the Latin putor, meaning “a foul odor.”

Sus—Latin for “pig.”

                scrofa—Latin for “breeding sow.”

Sylvilagus—from the Latin sylva, meaning “forest,” and the Greek lagos, meaning “hare.”

                aquaticus—Latin for “water dweller.”

                floridanus—Latin for “of Florida,” referring to the origin of the type specimen.

Synaptomys—from the Greek synapto, meaning “to unite,” and mys, meaning “mouse,” probably referring to the idea that the bog lemming links true lemmings and voles.

                cooperi—patronym for William Cooper, who collected the type specimen.

Tadarida—a coined name (a made-up word).

                brasiliensis—Latin for “of Brazil.”

Tamias—Greek for “a storer,” referring to the food-storing habits of chipmunks.

                striatus—Latin for “striped.”

Taxidea—from the Latin taxus, meaning “badger.”

                taxus—Latin for “badger.”

Trichechus is from the Greek trichos meaning “a hair.”

                manatus—from the Haitian manati meaning “big beaver.”

Urocyon—from the Greek oura, meaning “tail,” and kyon, meaning “dog.”

                cinereoargenteus—from the Latin cinereus, meaning “ash-colored,” and argenteus, meaning “silvery.”

Ursus—Latin for “bear.”

                americanus—Latin for “of America.”

Vulpes—Latin for “fox.”

Zapus—from the Greek za, meaning “very,” and the podos, meaning “foot.”

                hudsonius—named for Hudson Bay, the type locality.




Best, T. L., and J. L. Dusi.  2014.  Mammals of Alabama.  University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 


Best, T. L., and J. L. Hunt.  In press.  Mammals of the southeastern United States:  biology of native, extirpated, extinct, and some introduced and prehistoric species.  University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.


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Sealander, J. A., and G. A. Heidt.  1990.  Arkansas mammals:  their natural history, classification and distribution.  The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 308 pp.


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