Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

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).


Marine mammals

March 26, 2015

Two images on Facebook recently: a Sandra Boynton drawing for Manatee Appreciation Day (March 25th, yesterday); and a wordless cartoon (on the “Mermaid Melissa” site, artist uncredited) picturing a narwhal as a unicorn in disguise):



(#2 has an actual narwhal for comparison.)


Back-to-back American holidays

February 2, 2015

This is day 2 in a pair of specifically U.S. hoidays. Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday; today is Groundhog Day.



January 24, 2015

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes features the dreaded snow shark:


It all started with Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie Jaws, with its threatening fins moving through the water and its ominous music. In the cartoon, the fins are moving through the snow, advancing on the hapless snowman.



January 14, 2015

Briefly noted, in “No Time for Bats to Rest Easy’ by Natalie Angier in yesterday’s NYT Science Times:

“A politician in Australia said, ‘Bomb the bats,’ ” Dr. Wang [bat virologist Lin-Fa Wang] said. “But if you do that, you’ll destroy the ecosystem and then you’ll get more infectious disease, not less.” The risks from wanton batricide could well be immediate: Recent research suggests that bats are likeliest to shed viral particles when they are under stress and their numbers are shrinking.

Yes, batricide. I can’t tell whether this is a playful coinage on Angier’s part, or whether bat scientists (chiropterists?) actually use the term.

(The article is absolutely fascinating, by the way.)

Fabulous creatures on television

December 19, 2014

On ADS-L, an antedating for bunyip, a fabulous creature of the Australian aborigines, which I connected to a puppet character on American television, and that reminded Jon Lighter of the Flub-a-dub on Howdy Doody.



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