The Classroom Package: Curriculum Connection

 Animal Name Origins
 Language, like culture and history, is not static.  It constantly evolves and expands as people interact with their world and each other.  There is no better example than the English language, which has borrowed more than two-thirds of its words over the years.

Have students use a good dictionary to research the origin of the animal names found in
the poem, Children of the Amazon.  Then, have them each choose one or two other animals from various regions of the world and research the geographical origin and current distribution of these animals.  Next, check the dictionary for the origin of the animals' names.  Do the word origins always match the geographical origin/distribution of the animal?  Why or why not?  What language is used to represent the scientific names of animals?  Why was just one language chosen for this purpose?

Here is an alphabetical list of English animal names with a wide range of origins:


aardvark   condor    hamadryas

agouti    dachshund    hoopoe

ai            dingo        hyrax

alpaca     echidna       ibis

appaloosa    eland    impala

babirusa      fer de lance   jacamar

barracuda   ferret         jackal

chamois   gecko    kangaroo

chow    goose    kinkajou

cicada    guar    kiwi

kookaburra   quagga    umbrette

lammergeier   quahog    urus

lemur           quetzal    vervet

malamute   ratel    vicuna

markhor   rhea       vinegarroon

narwhal   rottweiler   wallaby

nene       saiga           wapiti

newt       samoyed    wambat

ocelot    schnauzer   xiphosuran

okapi       sika                yak

opossum   skunk      yucca moth

orangutan    tapir       zebu

panda      terrapin     zyzzyva

peccary   tinamou

pika       tsetse fly


Which animals on the list do students recognize immediately?  Ask students, "What
percent of these are English words?"  (The answer is 100%.) What percentage of these English words have an English origin?  Look up word origins, research the animals, write reports, illustrate, make dioramas and display your "Obscure Animal Zoo."



Please choose another page below.
Amazon Rain Forest  
The Galapagos Islands

Latin America Classrom Travel Resources

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