The scientific naming of mantas has had a convoluted history, during which several names were used for both the genus (Ceratoptera, Brachioptilon Daemomanta, and Diabolicthys) and species (such as vampyrus, americana, johnii, and hamiltoni). All were eventually treated as synonyms of the single species Manta birostris. The genus name Manta was first published in 1829 by Dr Edward Nathaniel Bancroft of Jamaica. The specific name birostris is ascribed to Johann Julius Walbaum (1792) by some authorities and to Johann August Donndorff (1798) by others. The specific name alfredi was first used by Australian zoologist Gerard Krefft, who named the manta after Prince Alfred.

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