Gender (biology)

Article

August 15, 2022

In systematics, the genus is a taxonomic (or taxonomic) rank which groups together a set of species having several similar characteristics in common. The genus is the sixth principal rank in the classical systematics of living species. It is estimated that approximately 290,000 genera are used in the animal kingdom (including nearly 10% butterflies).

Presentation

It is an abstract notion that was present in everyday vocabulary long before this modern concept was introduced by the botanist Tournefort and adopted in the scientific terminology of naturalists. Thus, in botany, we distinguish, since the highest Antiquity, the sessile oak, the holm oak, the cork oak, the kermes oak, while recognizing them all, in an obvious way, as oaks. Most of the time, the genus is also kept in the phylogenetic classification for practical reasons. Any living or having lived species (animal, plant, fungus, bacteria, etc.) is attached to a genus, according to the binomial nomenclature introduced by Carl von Linné. A genus name is a Latin (or Latinized) name in the nominative singular (or treated as such). Its origin can be any (surname, toponym, first name, etc.). The first letter of the genus name is always capitalized. It must be written in the Latin alphabet (accents and diacritics are excluded, but Latin ligatures such as æ, œ are still found in works prior to 1993. Since 1993, article 60.6 of the international code of botanical nomenclature (so-called Tokyo version ) now imposes the following: "[...] the ligatures -æ-, -œ- to indicate that these letters must be pronounced together are to be replaced by separate letters -ae- and -oe-." The reason given, essentially practice, is to facilitate computer sorting of taxa. Each species can in turn contain several subspecies, varieties or forms. For example, the emperor penguin (Latin name: Aptenodytes forsteri) and the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonica) both belong to the genus Aptenodytes, of the penguin family. Some disciplines, such as mycology or entomology, allow an even finer division of the genus into Sub-genres, Sections, Sub-sections. Finally, at the lowest supra-specific level, we sometimes encounter in the flora, the grouping of species into stirpes. A genus is said to be monotypic if it includes only one species, such as the fish genus Sinigarra or the tree genus Ginkgo. The human race is called Homo.

Gender name change

During scientific history, the assigned genus name is often changed. The most frequent case is the separation of an initial genus into two or more other distinct genera, due to the distance from one species to another considered more important. But the reverse, that is to say the meeting in a single genus of species of genera previously considered as distinct also exists. We can give an example of this in ornithology: in his Systema naturae of 1758, Linnaeus then included all known European diurnal birds of prey (with the exception of vultures) in the genus Falco: not only falcons, which are still there, but also well for example eagles than buzzards or sparrowhawks. Thus, the sparrowhawk was named by Linnaeus Falco nisus, the common buzzard Falco buteo and the golden eagle Falco chrysaetos. Several successive naturalists then separated it into new genera: Brisson, first created in 1760 the genera Aquila for eagles, and Accipiter for hawks and goshawks; then in 1799 Lacépède created the genres Circus for harriers, Milvus for kites, and Buteo for buzzards. In 1809, Savigny created the genera Haliaeetus for the sea eagle, Pandion for the osprey and Elanus for the elk, described in 1789 by Desfontaines in Linné's genus Falco. In 1816, Cuvier