Biological Theory 12 (3):131-141 (2017)

Abstract
This study analyzes shells of marine gastropods of a zoological museum and the Latin epithets expressing perceptual and connotative attributes that they have received in the standard, Linnaean nomenclature. Making use of the Osgood semantic differential, we presented the subjects with digital 3-D reproductions of the shell specimens to be subjectively evaluated according to 17 pairs of attributes. The results show that, overall, the subjective evaluations given by the subjects are consistent, which suggests that an intersubjective characterization of the shells as wholes according to their qualitative and morphological traits is possible and scientifically explicable. This may apply to other biological items as well. The results also show that the epithets given to the shells by taxonomists do not always reflect the perceptual evaluation of the general population, being a product of the well-known ambiguity in taxonomic categorization and naming.
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DOI 10.1007/s13752-017-0268-4
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