Phoronida: vernacular or common names


Definitions and ICZN articles

The definitions in the dictionary:

  • Vernaculare name: sc. nat. (1) applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification.
    (2) designating or relating to the common name of an animal or plant.

  • Commun name: A common or vernacular name as distinguished from a scientific name.

Note: Both definitions being similar, vernacular name will be used herein - it is originally used in the Code below
On the contrary, the definitions of these names are quite different in French

The rules of the "International Code of Zoological Nomenclature" (ICZN, 1999) which apply to all animal species and genus, related to these two names are quoted below:

  • 1.3. Exclusions. Excluded from the provisions of the Code are names proposed
    • 1.3.5. as means of temporary reference and not for formal taxonomic use as scientific names in zoological nomenclature;

  • Recommendation 11A. Use of vernacular names. An unmodified vernacular word should not be used as a scientific name. Appropriate latinization is the preferred means of formation of names from vernacular words.

  • 12.3. Exclusions. The mention of any of the following does not in itself constitute a description, definition, or indication: a vernacular name, locality, geological horizon, host, label, or specimen.

Some comments and remarks :

In biology, a vernacular name of a taxon or organism (also known as a common name, English name, colloquial name, trivial name, trivial epithet, country name, popular name, or farmer's name) is a name that is based on the normal language of everyday life; this kind of name is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism, which is Latinized.

Sometimes vernacular names are created by scientific authorities on one particular subject, in an attempt to make it possible for members of the general public (including such interested parties as fishermen, divers, etc.) to be able to refer to one particular taxa among the hierarchical classification of organisms without needing to be able to memorise or pronounce the Latinized scientific name.

Furthermore the above cited article 12.3 (ICZN, 1999), a scientific sheet or report on a species must not include one or more vernacular names in order to avoid any misinterpretation and simple confusion:

  • Because vernacular names often have a local distribution, a same species in a may have several vernacular names or a single vernacular name often applies to various species.
  • Because of ignorance of relevant biological facts among the lay public, a single species may be called by several vernacular names, because individuals in the species differ in appearance depending on their maturity, gender, or can vary in appearance as a morphological response to their natural surroundings.
  • Many species, generally lacking economic importance, do not have a vernacular name.


Two vernacular names can be used in the phylum Phoronida: horseshoe worm or phoronid in English. In other languages: phoronidien (French), foronide (Italian), foronídeo (Spanish), Hufeisenwurm, Phoronide (German), Hoefijzerworm (Dutch), phoronida (Portuguese).

The larva of the Phoronida is named Actinotrocha, which vernacular name is actinotroch.

Remember that, contrary to what can often be read, the name Phoronis is one of the many epithets of the Egyptian goddess Isis, as stated by Wright (1856) when creating the genus. It is therefore a feminine name (see also Selys-Lonchamps, 1907).


See: "common name" in Wikipedia

ICZN - International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999)., accessed in 2017.

Hatschek B., 1888. Lehrbuch der Zoologie : eine morphologische Übersicht des Thierreiches zur Einführung in das Studium dieser Wissenschaft. Fischer, Jena, 1e édition, Vol. 2.

Selys-Longchamps M. de, 1907. Phoronis. Fauna und Flora Neapel, Friedländer, Berlin, Monographie 30, 1-280.

Wright T. S., 1856. Description of two tubicolar animals. Proceedings of the Royal  Physical Society of Edinburgh, 1, 165-167.

Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695)wrote in fable "The Cockerel, Cat, and young Mouse" (VI, 4) :
Beware then, son, through life’s precarious race,
To judge of people by their face.