List of commonly used taxonomic affixes

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This is a list of common affixes used when scientifically naming species, particularly extinct species for whom only their scientific names are used, along with their derivations.

  • -acanth, acantho-: Pronunciation: /eɪkænɵ/, /eɪkænɵoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek άκάνθά (akantha). Meaning: spine.
Examples: Acanthodes ("spiny base"); Acanthostega ("spine roof"); coelacanth ("hollow spine")
  • arch-, archi-, archo-, -archus: Pronunciation: /ark/, /arkoʊ/, /arkɪ/, /arkəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek άρχος, άρχικος (archos, archikos). Meaning: ruler, ruling, respectively. Used to describe exceptionally large or widespread animals.
Examples: Archelon ("ruling turtle"); Architeuthis ("ruling squid"); Archosaur ("ruling lizard"); Andrewsarchus ("Andrews's ruler")
  • archaeo-: Pronunciation: /arkiːɒ/. Origin: Ancient Greek άρχάίος (archaios). Meaning: ancient. Used to describe early versions of animals and plants.
Examples: Archaeopteryx ("ancient wing"); Archaeoindris ("ancient Indri"); Archaeopteris ("ancient fern")
  • -avis: Pronunciation: /ävɪs/. Origin: Latin Avis. Meaning: Bird.
Examples: Protoavis ("first bird"); Argentavis ("Argentine bird"); Eoalulavis ("little-winged dawn bird")
  • brachi-, brachy-: pronunciation: /brækiː/. Origin: Ancient Greek βράχυς, βράχιων (brachys, brachion). Meaning: short, and the short part of the arm, or upper arm, respectively. Used in its original meaning, and also to mean "arm".
Examples: Brachylophosaurus ("short-crested lizard"); Brachiosaurus ("arm lizard"); Brachyceratops ("short-horned face")
  • bronto-: Pronunciation: /brɒntoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek βροντη (bront'e). Meaning: thunder. Used to describe large animals.
Examples: Brontosaurus ("thunder lizard"), Brontotherium ("thunder beast"), Brontoscorpio ("thunder scorpion")
  • -canth, cantho-: see -acanth, acantho-
  • -cephalus, cephalo-, -cephale, -cephalian: Pronunciation: /sɛfələs/, /sɛfəloʊ̯/, /sɛfəli:/ /sɛfeɪliːən/. Origin: Ancient Greek κέφάλὀς (kephalos). Meaning: head.
Examples: Euoplocephalus ("well-protected head"), Pachycephalosaurus ("thick headed lizard"), Amtocephale ("Amtgai head"); Therocephalian ("beast-headed")
  • -ceras, cerat-: Pronunciation: /sɛrəs/, /sɛrət/. Origin: Ancient Greek κέράs, κέράτός (keras, keratos). Meaning: horn, of the horn, respectively. Used to describe many horned animals, but most notably ceratopsians.
Examples: Triceratops ("three horned face"), Orthoceras ("straight horn") Megaloceras ("big horn")
  • cetio-, -cetus: Pronuncuation: /sɛtiːoʊ/, /siːtəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek κῆτος (Ketos). Meaning: sea monster. The suffix "-cetus" is used to describe whales or whale ancestors, while the prefix "cetio-" is used to describe whale-like or large animals.
Examples: Cetiosaurus ("whale lizard"); Ambulocetus ("walking whale"); Pakicetus ("Pakistan whale").
  • -cheirus: Pronunciation: /kaɪrəs/. Origin: χέιρός (cheiros). Meaning: hand.
Examples: Deinocheirus ("terrible hand"); Ornithocheirus ("bird hand"); Austrocheirus ("southern hand")
  • coel-: Pronunciation: /siːl/ or /sɛl/ . Origin: Ancient Greek κοῖλος (koilos). Meaning: hollow.
Examples: coelacanth ("hollow spine"); Coelodonta ("hollow tooth"); Coelophysis ("hollow form")
  • cyn-, -cyon: Pronunciation: /saɪn/, /saɪɒn/. Origin: Ancient Greek κυων (kuon). Meaning: dog. Used to describe dogs or dog-like creatures.
Cynodont ("dog tooth"); Cynopterus ("dog wing"); Arctocyon ("bear dog")
  • -dactyl, -dactylus: Pronunciation: /dæktəl/, /dæktələs/. Origin: Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (daktylos). Meaning: finger, toe.
Examples: artiodactyl ("even toe"); Pterodactylus ("wing finger"); perissodactyl ("uneven toe")
  • -derm: Pronunciation: /dɜrm/. Origin: Ancient Greek δερμά (derma). Meaning: animal hide. Used to describe skin.
Examples: placoderm ("plated skin"); echinoderm ("hedgehog skin"); ostracoderm ("shell skin")
  • deino-: See dino-, deino-.
  • di-: Pronunciation: /daɪ/. Origin: Ancient Greek δίς (dis). Meaning: twice. Used to indicate two of something.
Examples: Dilophosaurus ("twice crested lizard"); Diceratops ("two-horned face") diapsid ("two arches")
dino-, deino-: Pronunciation: /daɪnoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek δεινος (deinos). Meaning: "terrible", "formidable". Used to describe presumably fearfully large or dangerous animals or animal parts.
Examples: dinosaur ("terrible lizard"), Dinofelis ("terrible cat"), Deinonychus ("terrible claw"), Deinocheirus ("terrible hand")
  • -don, -don't, -donto-: See -odon, -odont, -odonto-.
  • eo-: Pronunciation: /iːoʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek Eός (Eos). Meaning: dawn. Used to describe very early appearances of animals in the fossil record.
Examples: Eohippus ("dawn horse"); Eomaia ("dawn mother"); Eoraptor ("dawn seizer")
  • -erpeton: Pronunciation: /ɜrpətɒn/. Origin: Ancient Greek ὲρπετον (herpeton). Meaning: reptile (literally, "creeping thing"); used to describe amphibians.
Examples: Hynerpeton ("Hyner creeper"); Greererpeton ("Greer creeper"); Arizonerpeton ("Arizona creeper")
  • eu-: Pronunciation: /iːu̟/. Origin: Ancient Greek εύ (eu). Meaning: "good", "well"; also extended via New Latin to mean "true". Used in a variety of ways, often to indicate well-preserved specimens, well-developed bones, "truer" examples of fossil forms, or simply admiration on the part of the discoverer.
Examples: Euparkeria ("Parker's good [animal]") Euhelopus ("good marsh foot") Eustreptospondylus ("true Streptospondylus")
  • -felis: Pronunciation: /fiːlis/. Origin: Latin felis, feles. Meaning: cat. "Felis" alone is the genus name for the group that includes the domestic cat.
Examples: Dinofelis ("terrible cat"); Pardofelis ("leopard cat"); Profelis ("before cat")
  • -form, -formes: Pronunciation: /foʊrm/, /foʊrms/. Origin: Latin forma. Meaning: shape, form. Used to describe large groups of animals that share similar characteristics.
Examples: galliformes ("chicken form"); anseriformes ("goose form"); Squaliformes ("shark form")
  • giga-, giganto-: Pronunciation: /ɡiɡaː/, /d͡ʒaɪgæntoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek γίγας, γίγαντίς (gígas, gigantis). Meaning: giant, of a giant, respectively. Used to describe large species.
Examples: Giganotosaurus ("giant southern lizard"); Gigantopithecus ("giant ape"); Gigantoraptor ("giant seizer")
  • -gnath-, gnatho-, -gnathus: Pronunciation: /neɪθ/, /neɪθoʊ/, /neɪθəs/ (or /gneɪθəs/). Origin: Ancient Greek γνάθος (gnathos). Meaning: jaw.
Examples: Caenagnathasia ("recent Asian jaw"); gnathostoma ("jaw mouth"); Compsognathus ("elegant jaw")
  • -ia: Pronunciation: /iːə/. Origin: Ancient Greek -ιά, -έίά (-ia, -eia). Meaning: an abstraction usually used as an honorific for a person or place.
Examples: Dickinsonia ("for Dickinson"); Cooksonia ("for Cookson"); Coloradia ("for Colorado")
  • ichthyo-, -ichthys: Pronunciation: /ɪkθioʊs/, /ɪkθis/. Origin: Ancient Greek ίχθυς. Meaning: fish. The suffix "-ichthys" is used to describe fish, while the prefix "ichthyo-", while used to describe fish, is also used to describe fish-like creatures.
Examples: Ichthyosaurus ("fish lizard"); Leedsichthys ("Leeds's fish"); Haikouichthys ("Haikou fish")
  • -lestes: Pronunciation: /lɛstiːz/. Origin: Ancient Greek λῃστής (lestes). Meaning: robber.
Examples: Carpolestes ("fruit robber"); Ornitholestes ("bird robber"); Sarcolestes ("flesh robber")
  • long: Pronunciation: /lʊng/. Origin: Mandarin long (龙). Meaning: dragon. Used to describe dinosaur finds in China
Examples: Mei long ("sleeping dragon"); Bolong ("small dragon"); Zuolong ("Zuo's dragon")
  • -lopho-, -lophus: Pronunciation: /lɒfoʊ/, /ləfəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek λοφος (lophos). Meaning: A bird's crest. Used to describe animals with crests on their heads.
Examples: Dilophosaurus ("two-crested lizard"); Brachylophosaurus ("short-crested lizard"); Saurolophus ("lizard crest")
  • macro-: Pronunciation: /mækroʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek μάκρος (makros). Meaning: large.
Examples: macropod ("big foot"); Macrodontophion ("big tooth snake"); Macrogryphosaurus ("big enigmatic lizard")
  • -maia, maia-: Pronunciation: /maɪɑː/ Origin: Ancient Greek Μάίά (Maia). Meaning: Originally the mother of Hermes. Used to indicate maternal roles.
Examples: Maiasaura ("mother lizard"); Eomaia ("dawn mother"); Juramaia (Jurassic mother")
  • mega-, megalo-: Pronunciation: /mɛga/, /mɛgaloʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek μεγάς, μεγάλή (megas, megal'e). Meaning: big.
Examples: Megarachne ("big spider"); Megalosaurus ("big lizard"); Megalodon ("big tooth")
  • micro-: Pronunciation: /maɪkroʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek μικρός (micros). Meaning: "small".
Examples: Microraptor ("small seizer") Microvenator ("small hunter"); Microceratops ("small horned face")
  • mimo-, -mimus: /maɪmoʊ̯/, /maɪməs/. Origin: Latin mimus. Meaning: actor. Used to describe creatures that resemble others.
Examples: Struthiomimus; ("ostrich mimic"); Ornithomimus ("bird mimic"); Gallimimus ("chicken mimic"); ornithomimosaur ("bird mimic lizard")
  • -morph: Pronunciation: /moʊrf/. Origin: Ancient Greek μορφη (morph'e). Meaning: form, shape. Used to describe large groups of animals which share a common genetic lineage
crocodylomorphs ("crocodile form"); sauropodomorphs ("sauropod form"); Muscomorpha ("fly form")
  • nycho-, -nychus, -nyx: /nikoʊ/, /nikəs/ (or /naɪkoʊ/, naɪkəs/), /niks/. Origin: Ancient Greek νυχος (nuchos). Meaning: claw.
Examples: Deinonychus ("terrible claw"); Euronychodon ("European claw tooth"); Nothronychus ("sloth claw"), Baryonyx ("heavy claw")
  • -odon, -odont, -odonto-: Pronunciation: /oʊdɒn/, /oʊdɒnt/, /oʊdɒntoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek οδων, οδωντις (odon, odontis). Meaning: tooth.
Examples: Dimetrodon ("two-measure tooth"), cynodont ("dog tooth") Carcharodontosaurus ("serrated tooth lizard")
  • -oides, -odes: Pronunciation: /oiːdiːz/, /oʊːdiːz/. Origin: Ancient Greek εἶδος (eidos). Meaning: likeness. Used to describe species that resemble other species.
Examples: Hypocnemoides ("like Hypocnemis"); Aetobarbakinoides ("like the long-legged buzzard"); Callianthemoides ("like Callianthemum"); Argyrodes ("like silver")
  • -ops: Pronunciation: /ɒps/. Origin: Ancient Greek οψις (opsis). Meaning: face.
Examples: Triceratops ("three-horned face"); Moschops ("calf face"); Spinops ("spine face")
  • -ornis, ornith-, ornitho-: Pronunciation: /oʊ̯rnɪs/, /oʊ̯rnɪθ/, /oʊ̯rnɪθoʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek ορνις, ορνιθος (ornis, ornithos). Meaning: bird, of a bird respectively. "ornith-" and "ornitho-" are generally used to describe animals with birdlike characteristics; the suffix "-ornis" is generally applied to fossil bird species.
Examples: ornithischian ("bird-hipped"); Ornithocheirus ("bird-hand"); Eoconfuciusornis ("Confucius's dawn bird")
  • pachy-: Pronunciation: /pæki/ Origin: Ancient Greek πάχυς (pachus). Meaning: thick.
Examples: Pachycephalosaurus ("thick-headed lizard"); Pachylemur ("thick lemur"); Pachyuromys ("thick tailed mouse")
  • para-: Pronunciation: /pærɑː/ Origin: Latin para. Meaning: near. Used to describe species that resemble previously named species.
Examples: Paranthodon ("near Anthodon"); Pararhabdodon ("near Rhabdodon"); Parasaurolophus ("near Saurolophus)"
  • -pithecus: Pronunciation: /piθəkəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek πιθηκος (pithekos). Meaning: ape.
Examples: Australopithecus ("southern ape"); Ardipithecus ("floor ape"); Gigantopithecus ("giant ape")
  • plesio-: Pronunciation: /pliːziːoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek πλησιον (plesion). Meaning: near. Used to describe species that bear similarities to other species.
Examples: Plesiosaurus ("near lizard"); Plesiorycteropus ("near aardvark"); Plesiobaena ("near Baena")
  • -pod, podo-, -pus: Pronunciation: /pɒd/, /pɒdoʊ/, /pʊs/. Origin: Ancient Greek πους, ροδος (pous, podos). Meaning: foot, of the foot, respectively.
Examples: Ornithopod ("bird foot"); Brachypodosaurus ("short footed lizard"); Moropus ("slow foot")
  • pro-, protero-: pronunciation: /proʊ̯/, /proʊ̯tεroʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek προ, προτέρος (pro, proteros). Meaning: before. Usually used to describe ancestral forms.
Proterosuchus ("before crocodile"); Procompsognathus ("before elegant jaw"); Prosaurolophus ("before lizard crest")
  • proto-: Pronunciation: /proʊtoʊ/. Origin: Ancient Greek ππρὠτος (protos). Meaning: first. Used to describe early appearances in the fossil record.
Examples: Protoceratops ("first horned face"); Protognathosaurus ("first jaw lizard"); Protohadros ("first hadrosaur")
  • psittaco-, -psitta: Pronunciation: /sitɑːkoʊ/, /psitə/. Origin: Ancient Greek Ψιττακος (psittakos). Meaning: parrot. "Psittaco-" is used to describe parrot-like creatures, while the suffix "psitta" is used to describe parrots.
Examples: Psittacosaurus ("parrot lizard"); Cyclopsitta ("Cyclops parrot"); Xenopsitta ("strange parrot").
  • pter-, ptero-, -pterus, pteryg-, -pteryx. Pronunciation: /ter/, /teroʊ/, /pterəs/, /terɪg/, /pterɪx/. Origin: Ancient Greek πτέρὺξ, πτέρῠγος (pterux, pterugos). Meaning: wing, of a wing, respectively. Used to describe many winged creatures, but also expanded to mean "fin", and used for many undersea arthropods.
Examples: Pteranodon ("toothless wing"); Pterodactylus ("wing finger"); Eurypterus ("wide wing" or fin); Pterygotus ("winged" or finned); Archaeopteryx ("ancient wing")
-pus: see: -pod, -podo-, -pus.
  • -raptor, raptor-: Pronunciation: /ræptər/. Origin: Latin raptor. Meaning: "seizer, stealer". Frequently used to describe dromeosaurids or similar animals. The term "raptor" by itself may also be used to describe a dromeosaurid, a Velociraptor, or originally, a bird of prey.
Examples: Velociraptor ("swift seizer"); Utahraptor ("Utah seizer"); Raptorex ("seizer king")
  • -rex: Pronunciation: /rεks/. Origin: Latin rex. Meaning: king. Often used to describe large or impressive animals.
Examples: Raptorex ("seizer king"); Dracorex ("dragon king"); Tyrannosaurus rex ("monarch lizard king")
  • rhino-, -rhinus: Pronunciation: /raɪn/, /raɪnoʊ̯/. Origin: Ancient Greek ῥινά (hrina). Meaning: "of the nose".
Examples: Altirhinus ("high nose"); Pachyrhinosaurus ("thick-nosed lizard"); Lycorhinus ("wolf nose"); Arrhinoceratops ("noseless horned face")
  • sarco-: Pronunciation: /sɑːrkʊ/. Origin: Greek σάρξ (sarx). Meaning: flesh. Used to describe flesh-eating animals or animals and plants with fleshy parts
Examples: Sarcophilus ("flesh-loving"); Sarcopterygii ("fleshy fin"); Sarcosuchus ("flesh crocodile")
  • saur, sauro-, -saurus: Pronunciation: /sɔər/, /sɔəroʊ/, /sɔərəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek σάυρός (sauros). Meaning: lizard. Used to describe dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles.
Examples: dinosaur, mososaur ("Meuse lizard"), Tyrannosaurus ("king lizard"), Allosaurus ("different lizard") Sauroposeidon ("Poseidon lizard")
  • smilo-, -smilus: Pronunciation: /smaɪloʊ/, /smaɪləs/. Origin: Ancient Greek σμίλη (smil'e). Meaning: a carving knife or chisel. Used to describe animals with sabre teeth.
Examples: Smilodon ("knife tooth"); Smilosuchus ("knife crocodile"); Thylacosmilus ("pouched knife"); Xenosmilus ("strange knife")
  • -spondylus: Pronunciation: /spɒndələs/. Origin: Ancient Greek σφονδυλος (sphondulos). Meaning: vertebra.
Examples:Streptospondylus ("backwards vertebra"); Massospondylus ("longer vertebra"); Bothriospondylus ("excavated vertebra")
  • stego-, -stega: Pronunciation: /stɛgoʊ/, /stɛgə/. Origin: Ancient Greek στέγη (steg'e). Meaning: roof. Used to describe armoured or plated animals.
Examples: Stegosaurus ("roofed lizard"); Ichthyostega ("roofed fish"); Acanthostega ("spine roof")
  • -stoma, -stome, -stomus: Pronunciation: /stoʊma/, /stoʊm/, /stoʊməs/. Origin: Ancient Greek στωμά (stoma). Meaning: mouth.
Examples: deuterostome (second mouth); Gnathostoma ("jaw mouth") Anastomus ("on mouth")
  • sucho-, -suchus: Pronunciation: /sjuːkoʊ/, /sjuːkəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek σουχοος (souchos). Meaning:: Originally the Ancient Greek name for the Ancient Egyptian crocodile-headed god, Sobek. Used to denote crocodilians or crocodile-like animals.
Examples: Deinosuchus ("terrible crocodile") Anatosuchus ("duck crocodile"), Suchomimus ("crocodile mimic")
  • -teuthis: Pronunciation: /tiːuːθɪs/. Origin: Ancient Greek τεύθις (teuthis). Meaning: squid. Used for squids and similar cephalopods.
Examples: Gonioteuthis ("narrow squid") Architeuthis ("ruling squid") Vampyroteuthis ("vampire squid")
  • thero-, -therium. Pronunciation: /θɛroʊ/, /θiːriːəm/. Origin: Ancient Greek θερ, θέρίόν. Meaning: beast. Used to describe supposedly monstrous animals. The suffix "-therium" is often used to denote large extinct mammals.
Examples: theropod ("beast foot"), Megatherium ("big beast") Brontotherium ("thunder beast")
  • thylac-: Pronunciation: /θaɪlæk/. Origin: Ancient Greek θύλᾰκος (thulakos). Meaning: a sack. In the sense of "pouch", used to describe marsupials.
Thylacine ("pouched one"); Thylacoleo ("pouched lion"); Thylacosmilus ("pouched knife")
  • titano-, -titan: Pronunciation: /taɪtænoʊ/, /taɪtən/. Origin: Ancient Greek Τιτάν, Τιτάνος (Titan, Titanos). Meaning: Titan, of the Titan, respectively. Used to describe large animals.
Examples: Titanosaurus ("Titan lizard"); Giraffatitan ("giraffe Titan"); Anatotitan ("duck Titan")
  • tyranno-, -tyrannus: Pronunciation: /taɪrænoʊ/, /taɪrænəs/. Origin: Ancient Greek τυράννος (turannos). Meaning: king. Used to describe animals similar to Tyrannosaurus.
Examples: Tyrannosaurus ("king lizard"); Nanotyrannus ("dwarf king"); Tyrannotitan ("Titan king")
  • -zoon, -zoa: Pronunciation: /zoʊɑːn/, /zoʊə/. Origin: Ancient Greek ζωον (zo'on). Meaning: animal. Used to describe broad categories of animals.
Examples: metazoa ("encompassing animals"); parazoa ("near animals"); ecdysozoa ("moulting animals")

See also[edit]