Tag Archives: biology

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

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

I is for Intersex

I

Biological sex isn’t always as clear-cut as “everyone is either male or female”. There are whole classes of ways someone can be in between. Rather than risk getting anything wrong on about a topic like this I’m just going to provide a link.

sex-is-binary

Alice, one of the main characters in Project Quintessence, is intersex. Her specific condition isn’t named because, well, I couldn’t find a name for it. (The details are modeled after a real person, but that person doesn’t know a specific name for it either.)

Continue reading I is for Intersex

Basics of evolution

 It has come to my attention recently that I might have readers who are unfamiliar with evolution, so I’ve decided to start a series of posts on the topic. And at the risk of being too basic, I’m going to start with the basics. (This is a slightly modified re-posting of something I said on a message board some time ago. The other posts in the series will be original.)

“Evolution”, in this sense, refers to the fact that species change over time. The “theory of evolution” refers to the accepted explanation of this fact, which has itself evolved over time starting from Charles Darwin’s original version. The theory is that some traits make individuals more likely to survive than others (this is called natural selection) or more likely to reproduce (sexual selection), and that these traits become more common while traits having the opposite effect become less common.

Continue reading Basics of evolution