Sure, the purpose of scientific names is to provide taxonomic clarity, but some of them just sound awesome. This post was inspired by the Australian crayfish, Cherax destructor, which sounds like a comic supervillian. (Thanks to RickMac for pointing me its way – yabbies indeed.) Crepidula fornicata is simply descriptive at what those slipper shells of loose moral fiber spend their WHOLE LIVES doing, while Thetys vagina was clearly named by someone who’d spent a looooong time at sea. And I have a weakness for terrible puns – it was a sad day when the clam Abra cadabra was put into the genus Theora.
This appears to be a favorite topic for scientists wasting time on the internet – Al has a list of his favorites at his old digs (La cerverza the moth is AWESOME!) and Chuck includes more vertebrates on his (how DID the menhaden rate “tyrannus” as a species name?!). There’s tons more odd and amusing names at the Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature website.
What are your favorites?