The specific name musculus is Latin and could mean "muscle", but it can also be interpreted as "little mouse". Carl Linnaeus, who named the species in his seminal Systema Naturae of 1758, would have known this and may have intended the ironic double meaning. Herman Melville called this species "sulphur-bottom" in his novel Moby-Dick (1851) due to an orange-brown or yellow tinge on the underparts from diatom films on the skin. Other common names for the blue whale have included "Sibbald's rorqual" (after Sibbald, who first described the species), the "great blue whale" and the "great northern rorqual". These names have now fallen into disuse. The first known usage of the term "blue whale" was in Melville's Moby-Dick, which only mentions it in passing and does not specifically attribute it to the species in question. The name was really derived from the Norwegian blÃ¥hval, coined by Svend Foyn shortly after he had perfected the harpoon gun; the Norwegian scientist G. O. Sars adopted it as the Norwegian common name in 1874.
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