I'm writing a story in which I want to use a correctly-formed, binomial (Genus species) Latin name for a fictitious species of vampire bat. I want the name to mean "teeth of death", or something very similar, perhaps using "deadly". Since I'm going to refer to the thing later as G. species, or by just using the species part of the binomial name, I'd like to have "teeth" and "death" in the second part of the binomial. When I say I might want to talk about the species-name on its own, I mean in the same way that people talk of "Neanderthal" to mean Homo neanderthalensis.

I originally had Necrodontinae ecaudata (ecaudata was just a filler that I took from some other bat-species I'd seen). I've since learned that my name has at least three problems! First, N. ecaudata hides the "necro" part I want to emphasize. Second, I don't know if my translation makes sense. Last of all, I don't know enough Latin to know if I've obeyed the rules about case, agreement, etc.

What should I, or could I, use? I should say I'm not averse to mixing Greek and Latin (as Raymond Dart did with Australopithecus) to keep "necro" rather than something based on "mort".

  • The root necro- means "corpse" or "dead", rather than "death". How do you feel about mortiferum ("death-bearing")? – Draconis Mar 5 '17 at 5:37
  • Also, you don't need to worry too much about proper Latin in a species name: most biologists don't! – Draconis Mar 5 '17 at 5:37
  • @Draconis They probably didn't have the advantage of help from the friendly folk on stackexchange. – user02814 Mar 5 '17 at 7:33

For the genus, you'd want it to end in -don, like the Iguanodon. Necro- though doesn't mean "deadly', but "dead." Were I a biologist having seen this, I'd think "dead-tooth bat" and presume it had a non-functional tooth or something.

For deadly, you have a few options. You could do thanatodon "death-tooth", or perhaps "olethriodon" "deadly-tooth."

Other ideas along the lines of "harm" rather than "death" might be cacodon "evil-toothed" or blabodon/blaberodon, but honestly that would make me think of Slobodan Milošević.

Your genus name is the most identifying feature of a species group. Think Homo or Iguanodon. I would stick with that, and maybe add sapiens if they're human-like.

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  • Thank you very much! Thanatodon sounds like an excellent idea for the genus. If I add on a species identifier that means "tail-less", will "ecaudata" fit correctly with Thanatodon, or does it need to be inflected differently? – user02814 Mar 5 '17 at 6:11
  • @user02814 For -don, use -us ending instead of -a. In your hypothetical species, Thanatodon ecaudatus. Sometimes you'll see them ending in -i or -is, and both of those won't change. – C. M. Weimer Mar 5 '17 at 6:33

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