Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

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.


Pangolins part 2

April 1, 2015

So, pangolin was a morning name yesterday. And then the NYT Science Times arrived, with two pangolin stories on the front page:

“In Vietnam, Rampant Wildlife Smuggling Prompts Little Concern”, by Rachel Nuwer

“A Struggle to Save the Scaly Pangolin”, by Erica Goode

Very distressing.


Two, nocturnal and dactylic

March 31, 2015

This morning’s names, both dactylic, for nocturnal animals: the pangolin and the kinkajou.



March 29, 2015

Annals of remarkable birds (like the hoatzin, here): an image passed on to me by Chris Hansen:


Two blue-footed boobies. Yes, that’s their real color. But why boobies?


Name those spiders

March 27, 2015

Making the rounds in science reporting recently: newly discovered peacock spiders. From National Geographic on the 24th. the story “Behold Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus, New Peacock Spiders: A few new species of these colorful, dancing spiders have been found in eastern Australia” by Carrie Arnold:

If you don’t think of spiders as cute and cuddly, then you’ve never met Sparklemuffin, Skeletorus, and the elephant spider. Scientists have identified these three new species of peacock spiders in various parts of eastern Australia.

Less than a quarter-inch long (five millimeters), male peacock spiders are known for their bright colors and a rolling-shaking mating dance that would make Miley Cyrus jealous.

Two of them:


A new species of peacock spider, nicknamed “Sparklemuffin” by the graduate student who discovered it, performs a leg-waving mating dance.


The peacock spider Maratus sceletus earned the nickname “Skeletorus” for its black-and-white markings.


Names for plumed creatures, mythical and real

March 26, 2015

Two names this morning: Quetzalcoatl (the mythical plumed serpent), Hoatzin (the extravagantly plumed bird).



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