Last year I did a short post on “Great species names,” showing that scientists have a sense of humor when assigning Latin binomials to new species. This is one of the few chances scientists get to actually inject humor into the published literature, and it’s a permanent form of humor, raising a chuckle each time the species’ name comes up. I’ve already highlighted such species names as Abra cadabra, Pieza cake, and Ytu brutus. (I’ve always wanted to name a species Mutatis mutandis.)
Three days ago BuzzFeed posted a longer list of 17 humorous species names—and their pictures are included (many of them aren’t the animal named, though). Here are a few of my favorites, with BuzzFeed‘s descriptions. I’ve provided some links to the literature or species descriptions.
Ytu brutus is a Brazilian water beetle. The name derives from what is popularly attributed as Julius Caesar’s last words (see Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as an example): “Et tu, Brute?” Literally, this translates as “And you, Brutus?” In Spanish “Y tu” means “and you.” Hence, Ytu brutus.
Better known as the Conquered Lorikeet, Vini vidivici was a South Pacific parrot that went extinct roughly 700-1300 years ago. The name derives from the phrase “veni, vidi, vici,” which means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Reissa roni is another type of mythicomyiid fly. OK, I give in: that term means they’re flies that resemble bees. Bee flies, as it were. And I guess the guys who name bee flies really like puns and Rice-A-Roni. It is the San Francisco Treat, after all.
Heerz lukenatcha is a type of wasp endemic to regions of Central and South America. I hope they locate a subspecies and name it Heerz lukenatcha kidd. Also see (and laugh at) Heerz tooya.
There are others, but the pictures they show aren’t accurate (indeed; I’m not sure a few of the ones above).
A few of mine:
Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaicalensis. An amphipod from Lake Baikal
Dinohyus hollandi Peterson (Miocene entelodont) Named after Carnegie Museum director W. J. Holland, who insisted that he be listed as senior author on every paper written by his staff. The name means “Holland’s terrible pig.” A Pittsburgh paper announced the discovery with the front-page headline, “Dinohyus hollandi, The World’s Biggest Hog!.”
Strategus longichomperus Ratcliffe (Honduran scarab) with long mandibles
Abracadabrella birdsville (Salticidae- jumping spider)
Ba humbugi Solem 1983. Endodontoid snail from Mba island, Fiji.