I have a project depicting various animals and how they would evolve over 50 million years, and all of them have scientific names. I recently learned the genus of the animal had to be the first word of the scientific name, and I have to change all of them. The problem is that even though I love sorting animals with scientific names and relationships to others, this isn't really my strong suit. I have my pictures, scientific names, and descriptions of these animals in this folder: http://inkgink.deviantart.com/gallery/59946189/All-deviations-of-the-AFTER-US-Project And crocodile descendants are one of the main dominant sorts of life, with this diverse bunch being some I have to rename: http://inkgink.deviantart.com/art/The-Diversity-of-Crocodilalienae-626904898

I'm not asking for people to do it for me, but how will I be able to do it? I cant find anything on how to do this with animals 50 million years in the future, though I suspect I will have to add many new genera and families. If you can link websites that can help, that is good too.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you clarify exactly what you need from us? $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2016 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Just use families we have now? Maybe split some? What's the problem? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Oct 13, 2016 at 21:05
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Question is unclear, but might be a duplicate of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/55809/1971 (??) $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2016 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ While the OP isn't an exact duplicate of the linked possible duplicate question, there are enough similarities that I consider it a duplicate. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Oct 14, 2016 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


The naming system is supposed to reflect how closely related the animals are to each other. Usually what they look like is a good measure of this.

So, for instance, Panthera leo (lion), Panthera tigris (tiger), Lynx lynx (European lynx) and Lynx rufus (bobcat) are all 'cat shaped' animals in family Felidae (cat family). The ones in the same genus are more closely related to each other than they are to ones in other genera (plural of genus).

If the relationship is more distant still the creature will be put in a different family in the same order (e.g. dog family).

So you could:

  1. Start by establishing how many 'body types' your creatures have: snake-crocodile, flying crocodile, marine crocodile, etc.
  2. Decide if any of these body forms are extreme enough that they deserve to be 'promoted' to being a new Order or Class of their own. For instance, birds and crocodiles share a common ancestor, but birds are sufficiently different from reptiles to be Class Aves, rather than still being Class Reptilia. Are any of your croc descendants worthy of promotion out of Order Crocodilia to Order [insert new thing here]?
  3. The ones which are in a new order could have family names which reflect this. For instance if you name your new order Dracolia (from Draco, dragon), the families could be Protodracidae (proto dragon family), Neodracidae (new dragon family), Australodracidae (southern dragon family) and so on. This isn't compulsory, just a suggestion.
  4. The ones which remain in Crocodilia you can name the way you have been doing all along.
  • $\begingroup$ So for the ones that remain in Crocodilia, will the first name of the scientific name (the genus) be different or the same? $\endgroup$
    – InkGink
    Oct 15, 2016 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @InkGink. Some the same, some different. Go look at the Wikipedia page for Order Crocodilia - you'll see a bunch of genera names and a diagram showing how they are related. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodilia#Evolution_and_classification $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:33

Since your question seems to be about future taxonomy, you simply apply the current rules, but slide farther down the tree of life, so to speak, based on whatever the ancestral species was.

We start with the genus, which based on your question is the Crocodile, so genus Crocodylus

The Species name is next. As an example, this future crocodile lives in the Tethys sea, so it is the Crocodylus Tethys

In general, these are the only two things you need. If necessary, there might be some minor subdivisions (the White Tethys crocodile and the Blue Tethys crocodiles live at the mouth of the White and Blue Sahara rivers respectively. The White Tethys crocodiles are generally larger and more aggressive due to their direct proximity to the Tethys sea, while the Blue Sahara river exits into a series of shallow bays and swamps. Given enough time, the two subspecies might eventually become separate species, but currently can still interbreed).

For the full taxomic sequence, remember:

"Kings Play Chess On Fat Guys' Stomachs"

Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species

For most purposes, all you need is the last two parts.

  • $\begingroup$ Will it still be in the genus Crocodylus no matter how derived it is? $\endgroup$
    – InkGink
    Oct 14, 2016 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ DrBob's answer seems to be a good guide as to where the break point might be $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Oct 15, 2016 at 2:45

Classification doesn't depend on whether a species is past or future

If you look at the giant tree of life shown below, the outermost ring represents now. "Looking into the future" of speciation just means shifting the ring that represents "Now" a little bit closer to the center of the diagram. In doing so, the "future" of evolution on Earth is very clear.

The Big Tree of Life

Naming Everything

Plunder the ancient languages as much as you please. Scientists use that approach now and it makes for very interesting reading. Go nuts with it!


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