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The Fruit Fly Drosophila Gets a New Name

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the hope-you-used-pencil dept.

Science 136

G3ckoG33k writes "The name of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster will change to Sophophora melangaster. The reason is that scientists have by now discovered some 2,000 species of the genus and it is becoming unmanageably large. Unfortunately, the 'type species' (the reference point of the genus), Drosophila funebris, is rather unrelated to the D. melanogaster, and ends up in a distant part of the relationship tree. However, geneticists have, according to Google Scholar, more than 300,000 scientific articles describing innumerable aspects of the species, and will have to learn the new name as well as remember the old. As expected, the name change has created an emotional (and practical) stir all over media. While name changes are frequent in science, as they describe new knowledge about relationships between species, these changes rarely hit economically relevant species, and when they do, people get upset."

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136 comments

No surprise (0)

mrsurb (1484303) | about 4 years ago | (#31798926)

Like when Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet, lay people get upset when the limited amount of science that they have been taught changes. I suspect it is because the media trumpets the claims of science as established fact. Most non-scientists aren't aware of the way the scientific method revisits previous conclusions and is open to the possibility of overturning them.

Re:No surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31798958)

A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet and a drosophila melanogaster by any other name will still like a banana.

Re:No surprise (3, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 4 years ago | (#31799436)

At least the popular name is staying the same. I'd hate it if they ruined my favorite entomological pun: "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

Re:No surprise (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799456)

Time flies when you're having fun. Fruit flies like a banana.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31798970)

And you are using a bad example because you appear to be completely unaware that the reclassification of Pluto was because of a political pissing contest at the IAU.

You know how legislatures approve unpopular bills in the dead of night on a Friday at the end of the session? That's exactly what happened there. But not only that, they waited for most attendees to go home. Scientifically minded people like me were aghast at the shenanigans.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799074)

Well the decision was not about Pluto, but over the definition of a planet. My lecturers told me the committee (or whatever) tried to push a definition that was fuzzy and would have made many now dwarf planets, planets. In a vote, the "people" as he referred to the astronomers, won and now we have a good definition of a planet.

Face it: We could never have 9 planets now. It would be 15 and rising (= a mess) or 8 forever.
Why should 1 body of 4 bodies of roughly equal size rotating around each other make the biggest one a planet?

Re:No surprise (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799240)

Last things first:

All multiple bodies rotate around a center of mass that is never in the center of the largest body, be it the Earth-Moon system, or the Jupiter system.

Your 4 body problem is not even rejected as per the definition, so it's a red herring.

Number of planets? Since when does that matter? Where is the maximum number of planets in the definition?

The "people" voted? Seriously? You're seriously saying this? Out of 2700 attendees, all but 5 percent had left by the time the vote came up. Never mind that the membership of the IAU that actually attends the congresses is a small minority.

You know what might have made sense? Making Eris the 10th planet. All other KBO/TNOs are smaller than both Pluto and Eris. Using Pluto's mass as the minimum mass for classification would have solved the problem of "infinite" KBOs being classified as planets.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799266)

One definition that I had heard thrown around is to define a planet as any object that has enough mass that it forms a sphericial shape (this was on nova). Why use pljuto as the minimum mass? That's fairly arbritrary. Ceres shoudl be a planet and its no where near being a KBO

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799330)

1. All definitions are essentially arbitrary at some point.
2. All the other named KBOs are big enough to be round by gravity
3. If we make Ceres a planet, then we have to make the KBOs planets too.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (2, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 years ago | (#31799692)

Using Pluto's mass as the minimum mass for classification would have solved the problem of "infinite" KBOs being classified as planets.

Why? It's arbitrary. It's right up there with making a unit of measurement based upon the length of some King's lower appendage. Frankly, I thought we were attempting to move past that with things like the metric system.

Re:No surprise (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799822)

Because when you think about it, the Meter is just as arbitrary as defining Pluto mass objects as the minimum size for planets.

Go ahead, look up the history of the Meter.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31799922)

Yes, the meter is arbitrary. However you set the meter, it's clear that objects around size 1 are very different from objects around size .001. A useful classification system will group like with like. Pluto at .2% of Earths mass is very much unlike Earth. When you consider that Haumea and Makemake are 30% of the mass of Pluto, it's clear that Pluto is much more like them than it is like Earth.

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31800018)

To hijack your argument:

A useful classification system will group like with like. Earth at .3% of Jupiter's mass is very much unlike Jupiter. When you consider that Mars and Venus are 11% and 82% of the mass of Earth, it's clear that Earth is much more like them than it is like Jupiter.

Yet all are planets.

--
BMO

Re:No surprise (3, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | about 4 years ago | (#31800204)

Good point. And since Jupiter's mass ratio to the Sun is close to what Earth's is to Jupiter, I think we should just call Jupiter "a really crappy star."

Or maybe for classifying celestial objects it's not the size of the body, it's the motion of the fundamental forces ;)

Re:No surprise (1)

dwye (1127395) | about 4 years ago | (#31799686)

> Face it: We could never have 9 planets now. It would be 15 and rising (= a mess) or 8 forever.

What is wrong with 15 planets? There were a number of naming schemes already proposed for trans-Plutonic/trans-Neptunic planets out to at least 13 as far back as the 1960s. That there should be 8 forever, especially if something really big shows up out there, is more ridiculous. Perhaps we should rename Uranus and Neptune as Trans-Saturnic Objects and go back to the Ptolomeic list (sans Sun and Moon)?

I suppose you would have had problems with naming trans-Plutonium semi-stable nuclei as "elements" because 95 and rising is a mess, as well?

Re:No surprise (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 4 years ago | (#31799346)

Translation: "I was on the losing side of this debate, so I'm bitching about the process."

Re:No surprise (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31799894)

And you are using a bad example because you appear to be completely unaware that the reclassification of Pluto was because of a political pissing contest at the IAU.

So there was no scientific reason for reclassifying Pluto? Then, can you provide a definition of "planet" that will include Pluto, but exclude the dozens of other pluto-like objects in the kuiper belt?

Re:No surprise (4, Informative)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 4 years ago | (#31799112)

The people upset in this case aren't the "lay people [who] get upset when the limited amount of science that they have been taught changes". It's the scientists that use fruit flies as research models because it will confuse the scientific literature. That is, the biologists are upset at the zoologists who classify the species.

Re:No surprise (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 4 years ago | (#31799630)

...because it will confuse the scientific literature. That is, the biologists are upset at the zoologists who classify the species.

Actually, it's unlikely to confuse it by very much. From a biologist's point of view, one kind of fruit fly is (broadly speaking) pretty much the same as the next. It might throw some of the molecular biology research into doubt, but molecular biologists are quite familiar with the ramifications of using DNA profiles for taxonomy, since that's part of what they do.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799426)

Then there are the people who believe that Adam named all the animals, and we don't have the authority to rename them. The notion that Noah took a pair of Sophophora melangaster and a pair of Drosophila funebris on the ark with him is took much for them to accept.

Re:No surprise (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31799870)

Scientists also will find this change inconvenient. A very large amount of what we know about eukaryotic genetics comes from Drosophilia. They're second only to yeast. It's so familiar that we refer to it just like that, no species name needed. It'll take some time to remember to say Sophophora instead.

Backwards compatibility (5, Funny)

bjourne (1034822) | about 4 years ago | (#31798948)

Is it only in software we care about backwards compatiblity? This new name change will break thousands of studies which now references a fly does not exist. Journalists with only a fleeting aquantaince to biology will be confused about Drosophila melanogaster and its new name which leads to worse science reporting. This seems like gratitious breakage, where if an analysis was made the costs would be found much higher than the benefits.

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

MrMr (219533) | about 4 years ago | (#31798978)

This new name change will break thousands of studies which now references a fly does not exist.
You should practice talking to people. Somehow humanity doesn't dump a core over a new word as easily as your electronic buddies.

Re:Backwards compatibility (4, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799000)

Somehow humanity doesn't dump a core over a new word

It doesn't?

Where the hell have you been?

What about the fights over gender identifying words and political correctness? Gott im himmel, get out from under your rock. Core dump? Entire political movements have been centered around whether we should use certain euphemisms.

That chair has no legs, it has "limbs" - Victorian era
That's not a retard, that's a "special person" - Modern times.

--
BMO

Re:Backwards compatibility (3, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799020)

To follow up to myself, and to apply this to myself, please don't call me "a person of size"

I'm fat.

--
BMO

Re:Backwards compatibility (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799300)

but Big Massive Object is okay?

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799370)

Maybe.

Bank of Montreal is not, because it's abuse of trademark.

--
BMO

Re:Backwards compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799752)

and doesn't fit

Re:Backwards compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799374)

The word I was thinking of was "petulant".

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 4 years ago | (#31799656)

To follow up to myself, and to apply this to myself, please don't call me "a person of size"
I'm fat.


I'm not fat, I'm waist-enhanced!

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

djdevon3 (947872) | about 4 years ago | (#31799056)

Most publications can stop print on old versions and create a new version. Even the bible was blessed with revisions. Besides who still uses books anyway? We have teh internetz for gratuitous reference material. Don't you know computers never lie? :P

Re:Backwards compatibility (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 4 years ago | (#31799260)

Drosophilia melanogaster nomenclature 1.0 was conceived in the 1930's by Johann Wilhelm Meigen.

Drosophilia melanogaster 2.0, for use in genetic science, was developed by Charles W. Woodworth and Thomas Hunt Morgan.

Fruit Fly 3.0, Sophophora melanogaster, (note the summary is missing an o, a syntax error), is a major and backwards-incompatible release after a long period of testing.

Some features have been backported to Fruit Fly 2.6, which is a different fly from the Tephritidae family that poses economic crop problems in Australia.

Works Cited:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drosophila_melanogaster [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Python_(programming_language) [wikipedia.org]
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/04/10/0519202 [slashdot.org]

Re:Backwards compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799296)

Sorry, with all the 503's I meant 1830's

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

russotto (537200) | about 4 years ago | (#31799316)

Is it only in software we care about backwards compatiblity? This new name change will break thousands of studies which now references a fly does not exist. Journalists with only a fleeting aquantaince to biology will be confused about Drosophila melanogaster and its new name which leads to worse science reporting. This seems like gratitious breakage, where if an analysis was made the costs would be found much higher than the benefits.

You're modded funny, but I think this is more Insightful. The type species for a genus is more or less arbitrary. The member of Drosophila which is most studied and most written about is Drosophila melanogaster. It would make more sense to redesignate Drosophila melanogaster (or at least a near-relative) as the type species for Drosophila, and move Drosophila funebris to a new genus. Either change breaks "backwards compatibility", but moving Drosophila melanogaster breaks it worse.

(Interesting fact: The Mac OS X spell checker recognizes "Drosophila", though not "melanogaster")

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

anarche (1525323) | about 4 years ago | (#31799480)

Software concerns itself with backwards compatibility because computers can't very well check for themselves.

Journalism concerns itself with backwards compatibility as an easy way to weed out lazy journalists.

Re:Backwards compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799598)

(Interesting fact: The Mac OS X spell checker recognizes "Drosophila", though not "melanogaster")

And it certainly does not recognize Sophophora. By changing the name, those basterds just obsoleted my OS.

Re:Backwards compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799726)

Well, the problem there is that your spell checker is tied to your OS. That makes no sense whatsoever! Stupid Apple... (written from my probably last Apple machine)

The solution is Managed Journalism! (1)

RulerOf (975607) | about 4 years ago | (#31799318)

These types of name changes have prevented older publications from compiling nicely into modern libraries and vernacular for some time now. I propose we switch to some type of managed form of journalism---let's call it Journalism.NET---where these types of scientific references can be safely ported to new, more up to date word-ware paradigms!

Re:The solution is Managed Journalism! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799560)

"as if millions of authors suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

--
BMO

Re:Backwards compatibility (1)

cowtamer (311087) | about 4 years ago | (#31799500)

Science is full of confusing nomenclature that is sometimes made more confusing by the use of inside jokes, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_hedgehog [slashdot.org], the Lunatic Fringe [wikipedia.org] gene, etc.

I was upset when they split Monera into Archabacteria and Eubacteria (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-empire_system [slashdot.org] ), and when they demoed Pluto.

I was also upset when they discontinued Crystal Pepsi.

I guess the point is we have to live with the evolution of knowledge. I still want Crystal Pepsi back, and will miss Drosophila (the concept -- not the annoying white-eyed mutant flies that fill the dorm rooms of biology students -- who I believe will be oblivious to the change).

Why should zoology be immune to change? (2, Interesting)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | about 4 years ago | (#31799760)

This new name change will break thousands of studies which now references a fly does not exist.

It happens in microbiology a lot. Pastuerella pestis became Yersinia pestis ... Bubonic Plague remained the same, and the old studies are still valid. How hard is it to set up a table of equivalents where Yersinia = Pasteurella

Botany has been systematically reclassifying plants by their genome, moving dozens of species, eliminating others.

Why should zoology be immune to change?

It's not Sophophora yet (5, Informative)

ethogram (1094021) | about 4 years ago | (#31798962)

The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ruling addressed a request to name D. melanogaster as the type species for the genus. Under the rules of nomenclature, another species in the genus has naming priority. As long as the genus (currently more than 1400 species) remains intact there is no name change for melanogaster. However, the biologist who submitted the petition to protect the name D. melanogaster did so because a revision and splitting of Drosophila is long overdue (and is apparently interested in taking on the project). The ICZN did not make this decision lightly, it has been under review for a couple of years.

Re:It's not Sophophora yet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31798976)

Exactly. Read the article. Mod summary down.

Re:It's not Sophophora yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799288)

The ICZN can consider such changes (conserving a name despite whatever the rules say), but redesignating the type of a genus as a different species is extraordinarily rare. I'm not surprised the ruling wasn't favorabl. I can't think of any example where this has happened, although I suppose it might be possible if there is a serious problem with the species in question (e.g., if it is so poorly defined/described that you can't figure it out). It's commonplace to end up having to redesignate a type specimen for a species (e.g., specimens do get lost or destroyed), but if the species that typifies a genus was initially designated properly that's usually all there is to it: you're stuck with it. It defines the genus and anywhere the species goes the genus name goes too. In this case the type is apparently Drosophila funebris.

The other alternative, as you mention, is not to split the species within the genus Drosophila into two groups (all the species remain combined with Drosophila), but there are probably good reasons for splitting it, especially with 1400 species! It's also possible that when you split up the species in the current genus Drosophila, Drosophila melangaster ends up in the same group as Drosophila fuebris, but it sounds like there isn't justification for that.

[Shrug] Sometimes you have to deal with new combinations that yield inconveniently new names. What I like are the occasions when the new combination turns out to mean something funny in Latin.

50% of the species I have memorized (4, Funny)

Protoslo (752870) | about 4 years ago | (#31799004)

"It was very difficult for the commissioners," says Ellinor Michel, the commission's executive secretary. "It was a question of celebrity, as everyone knows D. melanogaster."

That would certainly be awkward...if we lose Drosophila melanogaster, the only full binomial I will know from memory will be Homo sapiens. I'll have to memorize the name Caenorhabditis (of C. elegans fame) or something, and that will truly be a tragedy.

Re:50% of the species I have memorized (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31799948)

Off the top of my head:

Cannabis sativa
Psilocybe cubensis
Lophophora Williamsii
Echinopsis pachanoi
Papaver somniferum
Datura stramonium
Theobroma cacao
Coffea arabica

Isn't botany (and mycology) fun?

Re:50% of the species I have memorized (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 4 years ago | (#31800080)

To shore up the numbers, memorize one of the ones where they just doubled up on the same root (presumably out of laziness): Mus musculus, Pan paniscus, Gallus gallus, etc.

Lyrical summary (4, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 4 years ago | (#31799008)

Sophophora was Drosophila
Now it's Sophophora, not Drosophila
Not been a long time gone, Drosophila
Now it's bug filled time on a moonlit night
Every fly that was Drosophila
Lives in Sophophora, not Drosophila
So if you had a fly in Drosophila
It'll be waiting in Sophophora
Even old pluto, was once a planet
Why they changed it I can't say
People didn't like it better that way
So take me back to Drosophila
No, you can't go back to Drosophila
Been a long time gone, Drosophila
Why did Drosophila get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Scientists
Sophophora (Sophophora)
Sophophora (Sophophora)
Even old pluto, was once a planet
Why they changed it I can't say
People didn't like it better that way
Sophophora was Drosophila
Now it's Sophophora, not Drosophila
Not been a long time gone, Drosophila
Why did Drosophila get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Scientists
So take me back to Drosophila
No, you can't go back to Drosophila
Been a long time gone, Drosophila
Why did Drosophila get the works?
That's nobody's business but the scientists
Sophophora

(with apologies to They Might Be Giants)

---

Ryan Fenton

Re:Lyrical summary (4, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799040)

I think you need to do more than merely apologize to TMBG.

You need to buy them a new meter, because you bloody well broke it there.

--
BMO

You hould also apologize to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799710)

Bette Midler, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and everyone else who covered The Four Lads original from 1953...

Re:Lyrical summary (2, Informative)

yerM)M (720808) | about 4 years ago | (#31799758)

Ironically, this song was written by the Four Lads [wikipedia.org] not They might be Giants, which just goes to show how names and attribution are indeed lost to history.

Re:Lyrical summary (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799868)

and even that attribution is incorrect, because The Four Lads were just the first to record it. It was actually written by Jimmy Kennedy, with music by Nat Simon. Poor Jimmy Kennedy can't get no respect.

Can scientists stop arguing about their names? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31799022)

And instead invent new ways to kill the bastards?

Fruit flies seem to spontaneously generate ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_generation [wikipedia.org] ) in rotten fruit in my kitchen. I think Pasteur fudged some his data when disproving Spontaneous Generation.

Although, scientists are doing their part to get rid of the fruit fly plague. If you are a fruit fly, your mostly likely cause of death will be a fruit fly genetics experiment . . . performed by a scientist!

Or by over-eager high school biology students, massacring hundreds at a time on microscope sacrificial alters.

Re:Can scientists stop arguing about their names? (4, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31799294)

The best fruit fly trap is a bottle with a little bit of red wine left in it. The little buggers are crazy after the stuff, get in and can't escape. We used wine traps in the lab to hold the escaped fruit flies in check. Of course, you gotta renew the trap every couple of days...

Re:Can scientists stop arguing about their names? (1)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#31799418)

They don't get drunk and wildly reproduce?

I really do appreciate the fact you're sittin here
Your voice sounds so wonderful
But yer face don't look too clear
So bar maid bring a pitcher, another round o brew
Honey, why don't we get drunk and screw

-Jimmy Buffet.

--
BMO

Re:Can scientists stop arguing about their names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799642)

Solution! Don't fill your house with rotten plant matter.

This is why we have common names (2, Informative)

urusan (1755332) | about 4 years ago | (#31799028)

As long as they're still known as fruit flies, changing the scientific name shouldn't cause too much confusion. Anybody who really needs to know will easily pick up on the fact that there are two scientific names and eventually the old name will become archaic.

Re:This is why we have common names (1)

dwye (1127395) | about 4 years ago | (#31800078)

> Anybody who really needs to know

(italics added)

For a snobbish redefinition of "really".

> As long as they're still known as fruit flies,

Regardless of what the zoologists name them, they will always be fruit flies to people with them in their kitchens, just as Buffalo Bill will not be renamed Bison Bill because the Plains Buffalo is "really" a bison, instead.

OTOH, the people who know them as Drosophila melanogaster probably could care less that they are common kitchen pests. Or, for zoologists who cook at home, that the things flying around the kitchen were Drosophila melanogaster as opposed to some related species, or even something of a related genus, when they are trying to get them out of their kitchens.

IUPAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799034)

they could just use the IUPAC name of the organisms DNA. of course it might take a while to say such a name...

All the scientists own fault (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about 4 years ago | (#31799062)

If they'd stop doing genetic experiments on that poor fly all the time, they wouldn't "discover" so many new species after all.

High School Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799092)

First Pluto and now fruit flies! What are they going to change next fetal pigs?

My entire high school science knowledge is going down the drain.

Re:High School Science (1)

anarche (1525323) | about 4 years ago | (#31799498)

First Pluto and now fruit flies! What are they going to change next fetal pigs?

Yep, they've become foetal pigs.

Not Sophophora melangaster (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | about 4 years ago | (#31799164)

But Sophophora melanOgaster.

That is to say, with a dark intestine. But "sophophora" beats me. Definitely not wisdom-bearing. So what is it ? Geeks, help.

Re:Not Sophophora melangaster (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31799350)

Well, "sophia" translates to "wisdom", "phorein" to "to carry" - I can't come up with any other translation than "the dark-bellied bearer of wisdom" myself, which admittedly seems a bit odd to me. Gotta ask the local greek-geek at work on Monday if I missed any other root for "sopho-".

Re:Not Sophophora melangaster (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799902)

Maybe its because biology students are first exposed to it in their sophomore year at college.

Re:Not Sophophora melangaster (2, Insightful)

dwye (1127395) | about 4 years ago | (#31800086)

Or because it is the species used in experiments, which are mined for data (bloated up to "wisdom" in the namers' mind).

Re:Not Sophophora melangaster (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#31800110)

I can't come up with any other translation than "the dark-bellied bearer of wisdom" myself, which admittedly seems a bit odd to me.

Presumably "drisophila" means dew loving [wikipedia.org], so is "dark bellied dew lover" any more 'scientific' than 'dark bellied bearer of wisdom'?

Seems Greek to me.

Re:Not Sophophora melangaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799516)

Welp, its DNA is pretty illuminating. It's not that big of a stretch.

Historical Precedent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799178)

This ain't just some fruit fly. This is the fruit fly. The one Thomas Hunt Morgan [wikipedia.org] chose to study.

"In his famous Fly Room at Columbia University Morgan was able to demonstrate that genes are carried on chromosomes and are the mechanical basis of heredity."

(wikipedia). Drosophila melanogaster [wikipedia.org] was also the model organism that was used in studies that led to the discovery of hox genes [wikipedia.org]. And before the best and the brightest flash their union card credentials and poo poo the lay people let's not forget similar memorable fiascoes where scientists themselves refused to get on board with sensible taxonomy [wikipedia.org] name changes. For example in immunology the innate immune system has a glitch in it's taxonomy in the naming conventions of the Complement System [wikipedia.org] where cleaved segments have a truculent anti-intuitive name for one of the segments. An effort was made to have the one segment (C2a) renamed but it hasn't been universally adopted just because that's the way it's always been.

And why the 503 error persisting for more than 5 minutes?

mindbrane

stupid dumbshits (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799222)

Drosophila melanogaster is THE species - and the only species - that scientists have simply decided to coalesce around and study in comprehensive detail. It has been the species for studying recessive and dominant genes. It is the first species to have its genome sequenced. Etc etc etc. Scientists simply decided long ago that they will get an economy of scale by pooling their papers around this species. It's a little bit similar to the old pool of resources and knowledge in the "Windows" name.

Microsoft could change or drop the name of just about any of its products - except "Windows".

Likewise you can change the name of any species - even Homo Sapiens - except Drosophila melanogaster.

it is the ONE species that has to keep its name.

Re:stupid dumbshits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799290)

RTFA fail.

Brings the "Lophophora" genus to mind... (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | about 4 years ago | (#31799226)

Which is the genus for button cacti (f.e. the peyote (lophophora williamsii)). What does Sophophora mean? What does Lophophora mean?

Re:Brings the "Lophophora" genus to mind... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#31799286)

Sophophora: bearing wisdom. Lophophora: bearing a tuft/crest.

7227? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799324)

Even though NCBI taxonomy is not a taxonomic authority, we do seem to be standardising on their taxon IDs for database work. So the real question might be whether we continue to call fruit flies taxon number 7227 or not.

Sounds unworkable to me (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#31799520)

The thing to worry about here is what happens when another 2000 species come up again and again. Keep in mind that there will be extensive creation of new species due to research on this particular organism, maybe even some species creation in the field. The current solution will need to be repeated and unless they come up with a better approach, it'll break old research. My take is that the approach doesn't really work. Reading through the comments, I came across the following:

For the record, I also think that Drosophila should be split because having 1450 species in a single genus is simply insanely impractical. Unlike the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature allows only two ranks (the subgenus and the "group of species") between the genus and the species, so using subdivisions within the genus is not an option, and this means many clades within Drosophila cannot be named as long as it keeps being that large. However, the ICZN does not restrict the number of species per genus at all; people who are happy to keep 1450 species within Drosophila are free to do so.

Adding another layer of ranks might help a lot here.

Re:Sounds unworkable to me (2, Insightful)

JoeD (12073) | about 4 years ago | (#31799608)

It wasn't the the number of species in the genus that prompted this. It was the genetic analysis of those species that revealed that they were not as closely related as people thought.

Apatosaurus? Bah! (2, Interesting)

JoeD (12073) | about 4 years ago | (#31799568)

It's still Brontosaurus to me.

Re:Apatosaurus? Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799778)

It's all just Greek to me!

Re:Apatosaurus? Bah! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31799880)

Which half? Seriously. It was the wrong skull on the wrong body, and both parts already had older names applied to them separately. Effectively, Brontosaurus never really existed except as a paleontological chimera [wikipedia.org].

Naming should be like an IP? (1)

mattr (78516) | about 4 years ago | (#31799638)

If the naming system was built right you would still see the relationship of different subspecies even when splitting is done.

It probably is an old discussion but I wonder, shouldn't taxonomy use more than 2 names, or perhaps use syllables to indicate relationships?

Is there a numerical system, perhaps like IP dot notation, or something else, that handles this more gracefully? If a numerical system existed that matches the relationships borne out by analysis of dna and the like, then maybe that should be the real base used, and then the latin or whatever names you want can be attached to it like a DNS?

The problem seems to be that as you discover more things, you will have to keep splitting and renaming, and you will lose links and make obsolete old articles that cannot be easily updated. A system that fits the way biology and discovery works should maybe be considered.

Re:Naming should be like an IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31800070)

As long as the names are used to indicate relationships, some names will have to get changed eventually.
On the other hand, it is good to have species named after their relationships.
Current nomenclature indicates only very close relationships (genus) which as I see it, is a good compromise, because those relationships hardly ever change.
Now it's Drosophyla's turn.
Some time ago here in South América we had our very common toad's name changed from Bufo arenarum to Chaunus arenarum. It happens.
And yes there are some propositions for assigning an unique ID to each species regardless of any common names.

A fly by any other name would buzz as much ... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 4 years ago | (#31800186)

Or perhaps because of most scientists main interest in it: A fly by any other name would breed as much.
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