Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

How can I find the scientific names of plants and animals?

Right-click and save to download

Detailed Description

Listen to hear the answer.




Public Domain.


[music fades in]

Hello and welcome to the USGS CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Steve Sobieszczyk. Today we're looking at the use of Latin in science with:

How can I find the scientific names of plants and animals?

Systematics, or taxonomy, is the branch of biological sciences that deals with the identification, description, naming, and classification of the world's biota. Taxonomic information can be found through the National Biological Information Infrastructure (the NBII) at Quoting their website, "The National Biological Information Infrastructure is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the [world's] biological resources." From their homepage there is a link to the Systematics website, where you can find a number of excellent sources for the information about the scientific names of plants and animals, including the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, or ITIS. ITIS is a partnership of federal and international agencies, and other organizations, as well as, taxonomic specialists cooperating on the development of an online, scientifically credible list of biological names focusing on the biota of North America. The ITIS is also a participating member of Species 2000, an international project indexing the world's known species.

And now you know. Join us every weekday for a new CoreFact. If you have a question you think we should answer on the air, email it to us at or leave us a voicemail at 703-648-5600; don't forget long distance fees do apply.

The USGS CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

[music fades out]

Show Transcript