Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

A ring-tailed lemur type

May 16, 2015

In the May 18th New Yorker, this lovely Charlie Hankin cartoon:


On the caption: this is a show-business meme: We don’t want X; we want an X type. (We don’t want Whoopi Goldberg; we want a Whoopi Goldberg type.) But then there’s the image of a ring-tailed lemur, looking non-plussed — but this is exactly the way the creatures look in the wild:



In brief: the name of a new dinosaur

May 5, 2015

A cute story from today’s NYT Science News, about a 7-year-old Chilean boy named Diego Suárez, who “has discovered bone fragments of a previously unknown dinosaur” — which has been named Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, after his country and himself.

The creature was approximately turkey-sized and might have looked something like this:

Unfortunately, I have no picture of Diego.

But Diego didn’t just stumble on the bones. He was “accompanying his parents, the geologists Manuel Suarez and Rita de la Cruz, as they studied rocks in Chilean Patagonia”. So he was looking with educated eyes.

Service animals

May 5, 2015

Today’s Bizarro:

We’ve been here before, in a 10/19/14 posting on emotional-support animals (like the bear above). A major point in that posting was the distinction between service animals and emotional-support animals: an emotional-support card for your pet doesn’t allow you to take it into a restaurant, hotel, store, taxi, or train, while service dogs can go all these places.



May 5, 2015

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, featuring roly polies:


Roly polies the fascinating creatures. Then there’s Jam Roly-Poly, the British sweet; the roly-poly toy; Roly Poly, the chain of sandwich shops; and the adjective roly-poly ‘having a round, plump appearance’, which leads us to the Australian film The Roly Poly Man. All are rooted in the verb roll, in various uses.


The names of birds

May 4, 2015

In the May 2nd issue of New Scientist, a piece “The Impersonators” by Daniel Cossins, about birds mimicking all sorts of sounds. It’s full of wonderful names of birds (mimics and those mimicked) from around the world:

the greater racket-tailed drongo, the forked-tailed drongo, orange-billed warblers, ashy-headed laughing-thrushes, southern pied babblers, the cape glossy starling, the superb fairy wren

The drongos are the stars here.


Underground Mastodon

April 25, 2015

From Sim Aberson, this tile from the NYC subway, at the 81st Street – Museum of Natural History Station:


That’s the American mastodon. And this is a marker for an underground mastodon (note nice double dactyl: Higgledy piggedy / Undergound mastodon …).

A few words about mammoths and mastodons.


Jolly lemurs

April 16, 2015

In the 4/11 New Scientist, a review by Adrian Barnett of Allison Jolly’s Thank You, Madagascar: The conservation diaries of Alison Jolly:

In exploring the female-dominated world of lemurs in Madagascar, Alison Jolly shed a unique light on a world as biologically rich as it is economically poor [Jolly died last year, at the age of 76]


Morning: C. elegans

April 16, 2015

Today’s morning name: the biological workhorse nematode, C. elegans.


The panda shirt

April 15, 2015

I haven’t been inventorying panda postings (penguin postings, yes), but I have two friends who fancy themselves as pandas, so this t-shirt (passed along by Steve Carter and Aric Olnes on Facebook) definitely caught their eye:

This version from the Choke Shirt Company, which says:

Trust me, I’m a panda. Featuring a blend of fabrics that you will never want to take off, this tri-blend tee gives you the fit, feel and durability of a vintage t-shirt. $26

Trust me, I’m a doctor. Ok, of philosophy, sans the medical gear.

A nightmare creature

April 14, 2015

From the annals of monstrous pests: the crown-of-thorns starfish, in the Economist‘s issue of the 11th: “Coral-killers: A dilemma for the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem”:

Since scientists first raised the alarm 50 years ago about crown-of-thorns starfish chomping their way through the Great Barrier Reef, there have been three big outbreaks. A fourth, perhaps the most serious, is now under way. The Australian Institute of Marine Science rates the “massive explosion” of this lethal starfish strain as second only to cyclones as a cause of the reef’s decline. Several interventions, including fencing coral zones and using navy divers to remove starfish by hand, have in the past proved ineffectual. But scientists at James Cook University in Townsville, a city facing the reef, may finally have found a way to fight back.

Divers have started to inject starfish with a solution made of salts from cattle-bile. A single shot of the substance, discovered by chance during research into starfish diseases, triggers a lethal reaction.


The creature on a coral.



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