Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekly Urchin - what's in a name?

Chris at Echinoblog, coupled with the National Spelling Bee, gave me the inspiration for this week's urchin post.

Now, if you haven't heard, the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, is my favorite urchin (yes, that's right, I said favorite urchin). But what, exactly, is the meaning of that name (certainly one of the longest species names out there)? This info was not easy to find, but with a little digging, this is what I've come up with:

First the classification:
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Echinoidea
Order Echinoida
Family Strongylocentrotidae
Genus Strongylocentrotus
Species droebachiensis

Now the various etymological roots:

echino - this was actually trickier than I thought it would be - from what I can tell the Greek ekinos means either 'hedgehog', 'sea urchin', and/or 'spiny'.

derma is Greek for 'skin'.

For Echinodermata, 'spiny skin' is the translation usually given, which makes sense. I like 'hedgehog skin' myself. Not so sure about 'sea urchin skin' to describe a group that contains the sea urchins.

Strongylo: from the Greek strogkylos meaning 'round'

centrotus: from the Greek kentrotos meaning 'spiked' (perhaps especially in reference to a type of spiked buckler)

droebachiensis: refers to Drobak, Norway where the species was first described

I guess this means that a literal translation would be something like 'spiky, round thing from Drobak'. Northern green sea urchin sounds better.

No comments: