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Can you say Strongylocentrotus or Paralauterborniella?

October 4, 2013

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Education Blog

by Todd Folsom

Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” What’s in one particular name is 32 letters! The green sea urchin’s Latin species name is Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. It is one of the longest scientific names for a species. If you come into the Naturalist Center on the second floor of the Nature Research Center, you can open the drawer containing sea urchin specimens and examine some Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis.  Green sea urchins prefer to live in cold water so they occur in oceans located in the northern hemisphere.  In this photograph, you can see the urchin’s spines and the longer flexible tube feet.

As tough as it is to handle a name with 32 letters, there is at least one more species with a longer name! This less well-known species with a 33 character name, Paralauterborniella nigrohalterale,  is a freshwater midge. These midges are flies in the family…

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