Category Archives: science

Funny Scientific Names, part 2

Part 1 is here.

Spongiforma squarepantsii (yes, really)- a mushroom

Tinkerbella nana – a fairy fly

Ittibittium – a mollusk

Oedipus rex – a salamander

Megapnosaurus (means “big dead lizard”) – a dinosaur

Irritator challengeri – a dinosaur

Gojirasaurus – a dinosaur, obviously

Not the name of a creature, but “thagomizer” is the name for the spikes on the end of a Stegosaurus’s tail. It originated in this Far Side cartoon:

Thagomizer

“Now this end is called the thagomizer … after the late Thag Simmons.”

And so finally, there is a louse named Strigiphilus garylarsoni.

Funny scientific names, part 1

I haven’t posted anything science-related in a while. If you’re at all familiar with the scientific names given to various creatures, you might have noticed that a few of them are weird or funny.

If you’re not familiar, the reason they have them in the first place is for international consistency; so scientists from all of the world can call a plant or animal by the same name. Most come from Greek or Latin, but not nearly all of them (in particular most of the funny ones don’t). The first word is the genus, the second is the species, and if there’s a third word it’s a subspecies.

Gaga germanotta – a fern (yes, it is named after Lady Gaga)

Hakuna matata – a wasp

Bison bison bison – take a guess (hint: bison)

Harryhausenia – a fossil sand crab

Laputavis – appropriately, a fossil swift

Brontomerus (means “thunder thigh”)- a dinosaur

Dracorex hogwartsia – a dinosaur

Bambiraptor – a dinosaur

Pantydraco – yet another dinosaur (this one is a coincidence; it’s named after Pant-y-ffynnon Quarry in Wales…which I need to remember if I ever do funny place names)

Zyzzyxdonta – a snail so slow it’s at the very end of the alphabet

The small world with the big heart

New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto this morning, but it’s actually too busy observing to transmit right now, plus it’s so far away that it takes hours for the signal to get here.

But if this picture, which it took from about 50 times as far away, is any indication, the closeup ones should be incredible.

tn-p_lorri_fullframe_color

Continue reading The small world with the big heart

Science of Anime: Beam Sabers

Star Wars had lightsabers before any anime did, but weapons similar to them are quite common in anime, so they’re the topic today.

0_Gundam_Beam_Saber

First of all, they certainly can’t literally be light. Neither a normal beam of light nor a laser stops when it reaches a set length, or blocks other beams from crossing itself.

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Science of Anime: Getter Rays

Getter Robo is full of things that defy the laws of physics, but it’s not really the physics that we’ll be looking into today. It’s the implications the title robot’s power source has for biology that concerns us.

Getter Rays are called the energy of evolution. (As is Spiral Power from Gurren Lagann, in direct homage to Getter.) They are said to be what originally wiped out the dinosaurs on the surface, and are still harmful to the reptilians of the Dinosaur Empire. Most of the other things they do don’t really have anything to do with evolution at all.

Continue reading Science of Anime: Getter Rays