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Pitohui - Lesson and Garnot, 1827 (poisonous New Guinea bird) The name comes from a response to tasting it
September 27, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature. A collection of interesting scientific names.

Examples (some scrolling required):
"CATCH22 (chromosome 22q11.2 microdeletion) This name, from "cardiac anomaly, T-cell deficit, clefting and hypocalcaemia," was abandoned due to its no-win connotations. [J. Med. Genet. 36: 737-738 (1999); cited in Nature 439: 266 (2006).]"
"Geragnostus waldorfstatleri Turvey 2005 (trilobite) The pygidium (tail) looks just like the heads of Waldorf and Statler of "The Muppet Show." [Trans. Royal Soc. Edinburgh: Earth Sci. 95: 527-542]"
"Dinohyus hollandi Peterson (Miocene entelodont) Named after Carnegie Museum director W. J. Holland, who insisted that he be listed as senior author on every paper written by his staff. The name means "Holland's terrible pig." A Pittsburgh paper announced the discovery with the front-page headline, "Dinohyus hollandi, The World's Biggest Hog!.""

The most recent entry? Eoabelisaurus mefi.
posted by bluefly (37 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eoabelisaurus mefi, previously: The dinosaur's genus name, Eoabelisaurus, means "early Abelisaurus", and its species name, mefi, disappointingly honors the MEF, the Museo Paleontol├│gico "Egidio Feruglio" in Patagonia, where its main discoverer, Diego Pol, is active.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2012


Fubarichthys (fossil fish) Usually found with its head disarticulated, or fubar (F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition).

Love it.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2012


I recently learned from QI that the boa constrictor's taxonomic name is... boa constrictor. This unique among all species so far recorded in having a Linnaean classification identical to its common name in English.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:15 PM on September 27, 2012


Well, western lowland gorillas are genus Gorilla, species Gorilla gorilla, subspecies Gorilla gorilla gorilla.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fantastic title. According to this article, it wasn't until 1989 that someone figured out that Pitohui birds are not only smelly, but also toxic.

And that's MetaFilter's own E. mefi, by the way. Not very active, but I'd credit that to the short arms and whatnot.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, western lowland gorillas are genus Gorilla, species Gorilla gorilla, subspecies Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

What about Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo... Ah, never mind.
posted by supercres at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2012


No testudo aubreii?
posted by not that girl at 1:57 PM on September 27, 2012


(mountain gorillas are Gorilla gorilla beringei, which is even more fun to say!)
posted by ChuraChura at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2012


What about Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo...

American Buffalos are bison bison, to try to get people to call them bison. It doesn't work very well.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2012


Plains bison are more specifically bison bison bison, at which point it sounds like someone is just very frustrated about you calling them buffalo all the time.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:03 PM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Looking at the dates on some of the binomial names, it seems like biologists have really gone to town on wordplay in the last 50 or so years. In a way it's great, as the variety helps them get unique names, but I guess than there are some classicists spinning in their graves over it.
posted by Jehan at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2012


I always assumed they were called Bison bison bison because that's a lot more fun to say than most of the alternatives.

(bison)
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2012


Notnops, Taintnops, Tisentnops Platnick, 1994 (caponiid spiders) These Chilean spiders were originally placed in the genus Nops, but Platnick separated them into these new genera when he reexamined them.
Well that's awesome.
posted by Jehan at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Labia minor (L.) (earwig)

Oh come on Carl, what were you thinking!

From Wikipedia:
Labia minor was originally named by Carl Linnaeus in the 10th edition of his work Systema Naturae in 1758, under the name Forficula minor.[3] When William Elford Leach established the genus Labia in 1815, Linnaeus' Forficula minor was made the type species of that new genus, and renamed Labia minor.

Oh, okay I guess.
posted by Kabanos at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2012


Well, western lowland gorillas are genus Gorilla, species Gorilla gorilla, subspecies Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

That made me hope I might find Llama llama duck, but alas no.

I did find out that Llamas are named Lama glama though, which I think is pretty glamourous.
posted by Kabanos at 2:43 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


No thagomizer??
posted by DU at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(After the late Thag Simmons)
posted by DU at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2012


There are some good ant ones. EO Wilson studies Pheidole, the most speciose ant genus, and named Pheidole harrisonfordi. Then there are the fire ants: their tribe is Saevissima, genus Solenopsis, species invicta. Solenopsis has no latin meaning, but the other two names translate to "most savage" and "unconquerable."
posted by Buckt at 3:09 PM on September 27, 2012


The website owner is open to submissions, if there are names that you know of that are missing.
posted by bluefly at 3:10 PM on September 27, 2012


Solenopsis has no latin meaning,...
It's ancient Greek, meaning something like "channelled face", if you're wondering.
posted by Jehan at 3:36 PM on September 27, 2012


ricochet biscuit: "I recently learned from QI that the boa constrictor's taxonomic name is... boa constrictor. This unique among all species so far recorded in having a Linnaean classification identical to its common name in English."

Well, that's what you get for believing QI. Just because something's said authoratively in a warm & comforting English accent doesn't make it true. Though it was probably the far more common case of Stephen Fry stating something which sounds true but is absolute bollocks, then with a "No no no, it's true!" going on to qualify the original statement beyond all recognition into a very specific truth.

In this case it was probably something like "No no no, it's true! The Boa constrictor is the only living1 animal2 named by Linnaeus3 whose binomial4 name is the same as its English5 common name!"

1 takes care of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
2 takes care of plants like Aloe vera & Gingko bilboa, prokaryotic examples like (arguably) Escherichia coli, & others.
3 immediately excludes anything discovered since the late 1700's.
4 excludes Gorilla gorilla & other examples (nobody calls it "Gorilla gorilla", just "gorilla")
5 takes care of things like Mus domesticus (Latin for "House mouse")


I enjoy watching the show, but by Christ it annoys me much of the time…
posted by Pinback at 3:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Grizzly bears are sub species Ursus arctos horribilis which cracks me up.
posted by fshgrl at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always assumed they were called Bison bison bison because that's a lot more fun to say than most of the alternatives.

Plus, this way, you can say "Buffalo Bison bison bison buffalo Buffalo Bison bison bison."
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So as an undergrad three of my best friends and I got a chance to isolate 15 novel bacteriophages, or bacterial viruses, that attack Staphylococcus aureus which meant we got to name them. When we isolated one of the last ones, we noticed that it produced fantastically tiny plaques, and so we decided to name it after one of our lab-partners-in-crime who was missing that day. It became Mandrew, the staph phage.

Needless to say he was extraordinarily upset the next day when we told him about the extremely tiny plaques that were now his namesake, until we later mentioned that small plaques indicate a large genome size. Reader, despite his reportedly genuinely blessed endowments of nature, this remains a point of pride for him to this day.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:11 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, this is the same partner who later dropped our only copy of the phage we named Jesus into our waterbath. We never forgave him for this, murdering Jesus and all, but we did later go back to the mixed stock we isolated Jesus from three days later and got a new phage from it - we called that one Messiah. (Bacteriophage taxonomy is not really Linean so very few phages actually have proper binomial names approved by our division of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses)
posted by Blasdelb at 5:16 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Awesome, they already have my second favorite fungus.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:37 PM on September 27, 2012


What's your first favorite? Truffles?
posted by bluefly at 6:04 PM on September 27, 2012


Cool! I love taxonomy and naming. I recently saw a specimen labeled "Apidae Bombus" and had an "Oh shit, that's why we call them bumblebees!" moment.
posted by troublewithwolves at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2012


Someone I work with once named a species of fungus Capniomyces sasquatchoides, as it was discovered in the Pacific northwest and has a large, foot-shaped holdfast.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:25 PM on September 27, 2012


This part is my favorite of all. It probably helps to know that -chisme is pronounced "kiss-me".
Ochisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Dolichisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Florichisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Marichisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Nanichisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Peggichisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Polychisme Kirkaldy, 1904 (hemiptera)
Kirkaldy was criticized for frivolity by the London Zoological Society in 1912.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:49 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


How about Tribulus terrestris, which on the west coast is known as puncture vine, (goat head in ID and east of there), from the caltrop family. No matter which way they lay, there's always at least 3 spines pointing up. They'll take out a bike tire. Earthly tribulation, indeed.
posted by primdehuit at 8:47 PM on September 27, 2012


How about Tribulus terrestris, which on the west coast is known as puncture vine, (goat head in ID and east of there), from the caltrop family. No matter which way they lay, there's always at least 3 spines pointing up. They'll take out a bike tire. Earthly tribulation, indeed.

Around here they are refereed to as F. Goat Heads, or just plain Ouch!, FUCKING Goat Heads .
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:06 PM on September 27, 2012


En espa├▒ol, se llaman abreojo (eye opener), and they will if you step on 'em.
posted by primdehuit at 10:28 PM on September 27, 2012


Man, I love this stuff. The puns are my favourites.
Notnops, Taintnops, Tisentnops Platnick, 1994 (caponiid spiders) These Chilean spiders were originally placed in the genus Nops, but Platnick separated them into these new genera when he reexamined them.
Oh, those wacky scientists.
posted by fight or flight at 2:34 AM on September 28, 2012


Pinback: I saw that episode recently, and that is pretty much exactly how they framed it. "The scientific name for the Boa constrictor is Boa constrictor. As far as we can tell at QI, there is no other animal where that's true.".
posted by phl at 3:56 AM on September 28, 2012


Pinback: Thanks -- I was half-remembering it from years ago. You may now sound the klaxon and utter the theatrical cries of despair.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2012


Bluefly, it's the one I worked on for my grad work, brewer's yeast. But truffles are pretty bomb too.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:58 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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