In 1842 the amateur palaentologist Joseph Chaning Pearce described a fossil cephalopod from Wiltshire under the name Belemnotheutis. This was in an abstract rather than a full paper, and it was written in such a hurry that Pearce confused the West-Country towns of Chippenham (in Wiltshire) and Cheltenham (in Gloucestershire).

In 1847 Pearce write a longer paper in which he used the name Belemnoteuthis, using the usual transliteration "teuthis" of the Greek word for squid rather than the erroneous "theutis". And it was at this time that Pearce gave a specific name, antiquus, to his genus. The name Belemnoteuthis antiquus was used from then on for 140 years for this fossil.

In 1992, Donovan and Crane argued at great length whether or not Pearce MEANT to say Belemnotheutis rather than Belemnoteuthis. Such arguments cannot depend on evidence, only on supposition, but they decided that Pearce WANTED to use the barbarism Belemnotheutis, even though he corrected it to Belemnoteuthis at his next opportunity. It would have been far better to honor Pearce for getting it right in 1847, and keep the name he used then, to go with the designation of the type species. But Donovan and Crane's argument was legally accepted and Belemnotheutis is the international legal name of the fossil, in defiance of logic and Greek etymology.