Butterfly names unknown to us

Continuing yesterday's naming theme... saving obscure languages may be our best hedge against losing irreplaceable knowledge of indigenous plant and animal species.


Information about local ecosystems is so intricately woven into these languages that it cannot be replaced simply through translation.... The indigenous taxonomy alone can provide a huge range of information about species, which young speakers in these tribes acquire instantly through learning the name.

For example, the article describes how one butterfly turned out after DNA analysis to be 10 different species. Not coincidentally, a Costa Rican tribe where the butterfly is found has a name for the larvae of each of the 10 species.

About 20 percent of the world's plant and animal species have been officially classified, though much of the remaining 80 may have names unknown to Western science.