Can you guess the scientific name of these common things?

Maria Trimarchi

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Did you know there’s a mushroom called Spongiforma squarepantsii? Carl Linnaeus invented modern taxonomy and scientists have expanded this vocabulary over the years. Let’s see how many scientific names you can guess correctly!

Scientific name: Homo sapiens

Homo sapiens (which in Latin means "wise man"), are known to date back to the African continent nearly 200,000 years ago. Who were they? They're humans.

Scientific name: Felis catus

Although they continue to bear a strong resemblance to their wildcat relative, Felis silvestris, Felis catus are our domesticated cats and stars of millions of YouTube videos.

Scientific name: Canis lupus familiaris

From teacup chihuahua to the Great Dane, you know the Canis lupus familiaris as man's best friend, the domesticated dog.

Scientific name: Polemistus chewbacca, P. vaderi and P. yoda

Named not for their resemblance to Chewbacca, Darth Vader, or Yoda, P. chewbacca, P. vaderi and P. yoda are the scientific names of three species of sphecid ("digger") wasps. They were named in 1983, the year that "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi " was released in theaters.

Scientific name: sodium chloride

It's used to de-ice highways, in plastics manufacturing, and water conditioning processes. In fact, only about 6% of what's processed is for human consumption -- and you know it as the salt in your salt shaker.

Scientific name: Prunus persica

If "Prunus" sounds like it could be a plum (or its dried form, prune), that's because it is.The genus, Prunus, includes almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. And Prunus persica, specifically, is a peach.

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Haliaeetus leucocephalus are the U.S. National Emblem, the bald eagle. Did you know that the largest nest found constructed by this bird was 10 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall, in St. Petersburg, Florida? That's almost as tall as Washington's Nose on Mt. Rushmore. And three times as tall as LeBron James.

Scientific name: isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is also known as rubbing alcohol. It's a common disinfectant, but did you know you can also use it to remove sticky residue, clean your chrome bathroom fixtures, and even clean the slats in your blinds?

Scientific name: magnesium silicate

This clay mineral is commonly known as talcum powder. Talc is a frequent ingredient in baby powder. It's also in cosmetics, including pressed powders, and foods, including rice.

Scientific name: Ytu brutus

"Et tu, Brute?" -- "you too, Brutus?" -- is a familiar quote from Shakespeare's historical play, "Julius Caesar." And the inspiration for the name of this aquatic beetle from Brazil.

Scientific name: sodium bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical leavening agent, baking soda, that makes your cakes rise when baked. It's also used as an antacid, for quick relief of heartburn and indigestion.

Scientific name: dilute acetic acid

Did you know that vinegar, which is acetic acid diluted with water, is a fermented product? Apple cider vinegar, for instance, is produced through fermenting cider, which becomes acetic acid.

Scientific name: Ananas comosus

There are as many as 300 billion are farmed worldwide, including the millions produced in Hawaii , but did you know that Ananas comosus, the pineapple, is actually made up of many coalesced berries? It's also been found to be a good digestive aid, and a good meat tenderizer.

Scientific name: nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide is what we commonly call laughing gas, or nitrous. While it's not intended to put you to sleep, your dentist may use it as a mild sedative to help you relax.

Scientific name: Anacardium occidentale

Anacardium occidentale is a cashew tree that, contrary to the American diet, produces more than just the cashew nut. Cashew "apples" are sweet fruits eaten, preserved, or made into wine, for instance. And other parts of the tree are used to make furniture, waterproofing materials, brake linings, and permanent ink.

Scientific name: Yersinia pestis

Yersinia pestis is the bacterium responsible for causing bubonic plague. Today plague can be treated with antibiotics. But during the Middle Ages, called "Black Death," is killed millions.

Scientific name: Varicella-Zoster virus

The Varicella-Zoster virus (also called the human herpes 3 virus) causes two diseases. First, the infection causes chickenpox, usually in kids and young adults. But once it clears, VZV goes dormant, until later in life when it makes you susceptible to herpes zoster (also called shingles).

Scientific name: Allium cepa

When you buy Allium cepa at the grocery store, you've bought the most common and widely-cultivated vegetable in the Allium genus (which also includes, garlic, chives, and shallots): the onion.

Scientific name: Avena sativa

There's nothing fancy about Avena sativa; it's your run-of-the-mill oat grain. We eat porridge, oatmeal cookies, and rolled oats, but most of the grain that's grown is fed to livestock.

Scientific name: Oryza sativa

It may surprise you that Oryza sativa is a type of perennial grass. You and I know it as two things: long-grain, nonsticky rice or short-grain, sticky rice.

Scientific name: Malus domestica

Scientists decoded the genome of the Malus domestica in 2010. There are more than 7,500 known varieties of this fruit we know as our orchard apple.

Scientific name: Draco volans

The Draco volans is a gamid lizard that's also known as a flying dragon because of its ability to, obviously, catch some air. It's more like gliding than flying, like a flying squirrel parachuting with its patagium rather than the flapping of a bird's wings.

Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosmarinus officinalis is the scientific name for rosemary. This aromatic herb grows as an evergreen bush, is part of the mint family, and is often used in cooking. (And it may also have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral benefits.)

Scientific name: acetylsalicylic acid

Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid, is the chemical name for aspirin. In addition to taking it for headaches, muscle aches, arthritis pain, aspirin can also help stop an oncoming heart attack and act as a rooting agent in your garden.

Scientific name: sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in many soaps, drain cleaners and oven cleaners. It's also used in the paper industry, in food preparation, and more.

Scientific name: Hypericum perforatum

Hypericum perforatum has been used for its mental health benefits for centuries. In the U.S. it's best known as the herbal antidepressant, St. John's Wort, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved it as such.

Scientific name: Gallus gallus domesticus

It can't detect sweet flavors. It doesn't really care for salty foods. And it will go crazy for a cricket. But the Gallus gallus domesticus, itself, doesn't just taste like chicken, it is chicken.

Scientific name: Rangifer tarrandus

When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny ... reindeer. So the holiday poem goes. But reindeer, which are called caribou in North America, can't really fly.

Scientific name: aluminum chlorohydrate

Aluminum chlorohydrate is the chemical name for a wetness protection agent: antiperspirant. But it's also used as a coagulant in water treatment operations.

Scientific name: polymeric carbohydrate

Polymeric carbohydrates are the glucose (sugar) molecules that make up the starch in foods including breads, pastas, and potatoes.

Scientific name: iron pyrites

Once used in firearms, and was once a source of sulfur (sulfuric acid), this gold look-a-like develops in similar geological environment as the real thing. While gold and Fool's gold are both brass-yellow with a metallic luster, read gold will bend while iron pyrite will break.

Scientific name: polytetrafluoroethylene

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene commonly known as Teflon™. PTFE was discovered accidentally while chemist Roy Plunkett was trying to invent a chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant.

Scientific name: ethylene glycol

At the turn of the 20th century, ethylene glycol was being used by nearly all dynamite manufacturers. But you probably know it best as antifreeze (coolant) for your car.

Scientific name: calcium hexametaphosphate

Calcium hexametaphosphate, take me away! Calcium hexametaphosphate is Calgon, a water softener.

Scientific name: Eubetia bigaulae

Pronounced, "you betcha by golly," the Eubetia bigaulae is a type of Tortricidae moth.

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