By Any Other Name

Scientific names are very important- not only are they identifiers for different species that simultaneously differentiate groups and unify them under larger categories, but they also tend to provide some information about that species, even if the information is the name of a researcher who did seminal work in the area, or that Stephen Colbert is awesome (see Aptostichus stephencolberti and Agaporomorphus colberti, a spider and a beetle respectively named for the comedian).

For instance, upon seeing and naming this new friend:IMG_0662

I can be sure that she’s a relative to someone that long-time Agent Red Squirrel readers might recognize. Nephila clavipes was my research subject in Corcovado, Costa Rica, which is why her legs, which look like the graceful result of some dreadful hair-growing (or hair-shaving) experiments, are so familiar. This lady here is a large female Nephila edulis, which translates roughly to “edible spider who is fond of spinning,” which is illuminating if not entirely explanatory or comforting to the Western palate.

The dolphins I’ll be studying here have been, until I think today, actually, been officially known as Sousa chinensis, but have acquired independence from their northerly cousins and become recognized as Sousa sahulensis. Though not named after me, as they should have been, S. sahulensis do gain potential protection due to their smaller numbers, which brings me to my point: S. chinensis, S. chinensis, wherefore are you S. chinensis? For a research project by any other name would be as wicked sweet.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 12.25.46 AM

 

 

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