Our site will be undergoing maintenance from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20. During this time, Bookshop, checkout, and other features will be unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Cookies must be enabled to use this website.
Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available

See inside

Book details
  • Genre:NATURE
  • SubGenre:Reference
  • Language:English
  • Pages:232
  • Hardcover ISBN:9798350910759



by Michael J. Stephan

View author's profile page

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available

See inside


Tautonyms explores the curious etymological origins of scientific names of animals in which both parts of each name are identical.  These amusing yet uncommon names include Gorilla gorilla (the western gorilla), Salamandra salamandra (the fire salamander), and Boops boops (the bogue).


For lovers of words and history, Tautonyms explores historically important events, beliefs, and myths of our human ancestors by explaining the meaning of names like Remora remora, the small suckerfish whose name reflects an ancient belief that this fish could attach itself to the hulls of Roman warships and stop or delay those ships from sailing.  It also includes names like Mephitis mephitis, the striped skunk named after the Samnite goddess of foul-smelling gasses, and Tyrannus tyrannus, the eastern kingbird whose name comes from the Latin word for "tyrant" and refers to the bird's aggressive defense of its territory, even against much larger animals.  Each tautonym presented in this book is accompanied by a concise explanation of its etymological origin and a description of the animal to which it refers. 

For the amateur zoologist, Tautonyms offers a trip around the animal world, capturing a slice of the vast biodiversity found on this planet.  Animals with tautonymous names are found on, or in the waters of, every continent.  They fly, swim, crawl, slither, and float.  Some are capable of mind control.  Others appear strange yet majestic.  Together, they showcase the wonder that is physical and behavioral animal adaptation.

Tautonyms are a scientific and lexical curiosity.  This book, the first of its kind, methodically catalogues hundreds of them and promises to be an entertaining resource for those who enjoy wordplay, etymology, and wildlife alike. 

All proceeds received by the author from the sale of this book are donated to wildlife charities. 

About the author

Michael J. Stephan is the author of Tautonyms, the first book dedicated to the topic of scientific names of animals in which both parts of each name are a single word repeated.  He is also a lawyer.  He enjoys trail running, playing guitar, and researching incredibly specific and random topics in silence for hours on end and for no apparent reason.  His other publications are on various legal topics and on the wordplay of Lewis Carroll.

Book Reviews

to submit a book review