Passer domesticus was Greek to nature lover, Kishore Chaukar, until Thursday evening. The managing director with Tata Industries was surprised to know that the Latin word means a House Sparrow.
Chaukar’s discovery was courtesy the book, Latin Names of Indian Birds: Explained, launched by the Bombay Natural History Society on Thursday.
For more than four years, wildlife enthusiast Dr Satish Pande painstakingly recorded the meanings of scientific names of 1200 common and rare species of birds for the book. “Every morning I sat for two hours with a Latin, Greek and English dictionary,” said Pande.
Pande’s curiosity to search the meaning of medical jargon as a student was a motivation behind the Herculean task to compile the bird names. “As a medical student, I was thrilled to discover that the Sartorius muscle, the longest muscle in the body that runs from the hip to the calf, came from tailors who use their legs to operate the sewing machine,” said Pande.
In the course of the project, Pande found that birds have been given their scientific names based on mythology, habitats, and visible attributes. Some birds have been named after people who discovered them. For instance, Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, a bird with a robe-like tail got its name from the wife of British ornithologist Allan Hume, also the founder of Indian National Congress.
“Understanding the meaning will create interest among people,” said Dr Asad Rahmani, director, BNHS. “I have stayed away from zoological journals because the language has too many jargons,” said Chaukar, the chief guest at the function.