Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Black Winged Stilt

And I am back. 2016 started with a schedule full of activities and that is good tidings for me. Meanwhile, I went on a bird walk recently and spotted at least three birds that were my first sightings of the species. They were the Marsh Harrier, Grey-Headed Lapwing and Little Stint.
It is during this bird walk that I spotted this gracefully wading Black-Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus). I just realised that the bird's Latin name is a 'tautonym'. Scientific names for animals are usually composed of two words (not always, more about it soon): the genus comes first and then the species. Two animals of the same species can reproduce and give birth to an individual which can further reproduce. The genus is analogous to its tribe: a group of species that are related to each other.
The Genus and the species name of the Black winged Stilt is the same making the name a tautonym. A little bit of prowling on the net and I realised that there are many such toutonym's in the animal kingdom. Gorilla gorilla (the Western gorilla) is one such example and surprisingly the Western gorilla has a sub species too called Gorilla gorilla gorilla (the Western Lowland gorilla) making it a triple tautonym. Just how a species has a sub-species, a genus too can have a sub-genus and to avoid confusion that genus name is given in brackets- like Megacephala (Megacephala) megacephala (tiger beetle, Latin name translated- Bighead (Bighead) bighead). That now gives rise to an interesting possibility of some one having a quadruple toutonym. One well known such creature is the Bison (Bison) bison bison , and like you must have rightly guessed by now it is a kind of Bison.

Unlike the Zoologist the Botanist have taken a clear stand against tautonym's. I have been told that tautonym's are strictly forbidden for plants under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

Meanwhile the Himantopus himantopus, caught some thing that looked like Chandramara chandramara or a Devario devario or it may have been some thing else entirely.


  1. Fantastic, I was waiting for your new post since couple of month. Hope you will share such beautiful bird's information regularly.

  2. Hey Swapnil, nice to hear from you. Thank you for your words and I hope I can keep my readers delighted.