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Names given in error
Posted: 16 September 2007 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I must have linked Mark Isaak’s wonderful Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature before, but I myself had forgotten it was there until I came across it again today. The page is regularly updated and, browsing through the Etymologies page I couldn’t resist passing these on.

From the Mistaken section (hence the thread’s title)

Paradisaea apoda L., 1760 (greater bird of paradise) “Footless one from paradise”; it was described from two skins brought to Seville in 1522 by the Victoria, the surviving ship from Magellan’s circumnavigational voyage. The native Papuans had removed the specimens’ legs, and the Europeans therefore assumed that the birds remained airborne their entire lives (with the female laying and brooding eggs in a groove between the male’s wings). A live individual captured in 1824 finally revealed that the bird spends most of its life standing on rather massive feet.

Apterocyclus honoluluensis Waterhouse, 1871 (Kauai Flightless Stag Beetle). Named at the British Natural History Museum from a specimen that was mailed in a package postmarked “Honolulu” (on the island of Oahu). Its geographic restriction to the high elevation forests of the island of Kauai was not realized until later.

Lepas anatifera Linnaeus, 1767 (goose barnacle) “Anatifera” means “goose bearing”. It was once widely believed (from the 1100’s until the early 1800’s) that barnacle geese (Branta “Anas” leucopsis) grew attached to seaside trees by their beaks and clad in shells before dropping into the sea where they became mature geese. The barnacles’ food gathering appendages were supposedly protofeathers. The migratory barnacle geese nest in remote areas well above the Arctic circle, so Europeans filled in the unknown part of the birds life history with this bizarre metamorphosis. This legend may have persisted as long as it did because it permitted goose meat to be eaten during Lent.

Here are a couple of choice items from the Fictional Characters section.

Gargantuavis philoinis Buffetaut and Le Loeuff, 1998 (huge Cretaceous flightless bird) This French fossil was named for one of the giants in Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel. “Philoinis” means “wine-loving”, which describes the original Gargantua but probably not the bird.

Saguinus oedipus oedipus (cotton-top tamarin) According to a paper presented by A. J. Ginther and C. T. Snowdon at the 2004 American Society of Primatologists conference ("The Oedipal conflict in Saguinus oedipus"), these tamarins really do love their mothers (though the dams do not let them complete the process). Apparently, though, this behavior was not observed until after the species was named, perhaps for its big feet.

I’m delighted to have found the site again, I could browse through it for hours (and probably will!)

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Posted: 18 September 2007 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Lovely site aldi. Reminds me of a game one of my flatmates and myself used to play collecting animals taxonomic names which were both the same (bison bison (bison), troglodytes troglodytes (wren), etc.) - we used to have time on our hands in those days!

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Posted: 19 September 2007 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The subject of biological nomenclature reminds me of one of my favorite trivia questions.  What well-known living (i.e., not-extinct) animal species is commonly called by its scientific name?  That is, its scientific name is exactly the same as its common name in English?  Not doubled, like Gorilla gorilla or Bison bison, but the same (except for capitalization and italicization: properly speaking, the Latin binomials should always be italicized, and the genus name capitalized.  And if you want to be really strict, the scientific name should indicate the namer, which of course the common name in my question doesn’t).

I should add that one source I found claims the name is officially obsolete, but this seems to be debatable.

[ Edited: 19 September 2007 06:32 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 20 September 2007 01:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I think you are referring to “Boa Constrictor”, now Constrictor constrictor (not sure of the debate on this, other than naming is constantly shifting around).

Do I get the prize!!!!

(There are one or 2 others where the common name is oftern used without differentiating the species and is the same as the genus e.g. alligator, amoeba, but I guess they do not meet the full criteria)

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Posted: 20 September 2007 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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We have a winner!

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Posted: 20 September 2007 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Huh.  Never enter one of his competitions unless he specifies a prize.

Yet another of Dr T’s self-publicity scams sours the board…

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Posted: 20 September 2007 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I sent you the correct answer in a private message, doc, several hours before steve_g’s posting.  If I fumbled the message, and you didn’t get it, of course i claim nothing. If you did get it, however, I think I am entitled to claim precedence, and the miniature rubber boa-constrictor prize ElizaD says you didn’t promise (actually, i’d prefer a garter snake, please. I’ve always had a penchant for garters --- the day tights were invented was a black day for me. If you’re going to constrict me, please do it with a garter --- crimson silk, preferably).

My object in sending a private message was not to spoil the fun for others, who might like to think about the riddle for a bit --- as I had to do --- before reading the answer on this board. I shan’t do that again. I am not, I fear, wholly in tune with the times.

Well done, steve_g. Were you aware of the riddle, and of the answer to it, before it was asked here?

P.S. This little quatrain is to be sung to the tune of “Silver Threads among the Gold”:

“Won’t you let me tie your garter
Just an inch above the knee?
-- If my hand should chance to wander
Please don’t put the blame on me.”

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Posted: 20 September 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Lionello, I trust your submission of being first cryptically, and so cede the prize of nothing to you!

I didn’t know the answer straight off, but the question fired sone deepy buried synapse so I knew where to look to confirm it.

Nasty habit of carrying around disorganised facts…

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Posted: 20 September 2007 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’ll be happy to share. I already got plenty of nothing. And --- since you mention disorganized facts --- we clearly have something besides nothing in common

;-)

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Posted: 20 September 2007 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Sorry, Lionello, I hardly ever think to look at the private messages indicator.  You did indeed answer first, and in the grand tradition of Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, I award you an even bigger, shinier no-prize than the one steve got.

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Posted: 20 September 2007 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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smirks with revolting self-satisfaction

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Posted: 20 September 2007 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Not so fast!  Where’s the rule book?  It just clicked with me that Lionello has a time-zone advantage.  I demand a recount :-)

On Lionello’s reason for not posting, has anyone tried to use a “spoiler” box on this forum?

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Posted: 21 September 2007 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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What did I tell you all just now?

smirks

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Posted: 21 September 2007 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Just thought I’d join in and assert my individuality at the same time.

simpers

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Posted: 21 September 2007 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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What did I tell you all just now?

I think I am missing something here, or was that a whooshing sound?

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Posted: 21 September 2007 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Eliza is referring to her previous post (#5). (Of the Insubstantiality of Techian Prizes)

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