Twitter hashtag of the week: Biologists snort at stupid animal names

Technically Incorrect: Have you heard of the bananaquit? How about the Slippery Dick Wrasse? If you haven't, the #StupidCommonNames Twitter hashtag is for you.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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This is the Slippery Dick Wrasse. Often referred to as just the Slippery Dick. Thank you, Twitter.

Expert Village/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I tend to think of biologists as furiously scuttling around, wondering which species will be the next to die out.

I am, on occasion, a pessimist.

Still, biologists themselves aren't without a sense of humor. Look, please, at a Twitter hashtag that might bring you a little joy. It consists of biologists (and other intelligent beings, of course) chuckling at some of the ridiculous names animals have been given over the years.

The hashtag is #StupidCommonNames, and represents a glorious collection on images of animals and their entirely inappropriate, silly, are-you-sure names. It's not about someone who called their goldfish Bert Glugchuckle.

Instead, these are the real scientific names of these creatures. For example, naturalist Phil Torres offers an image of a fine, proud yellow-bellied bird. This is apparently a bananaquit. As Torres mused, "Because how can it quit if it never bananaed?"

What about the one pointed out by biologist PZ Myers? As he points out, there is apparently a zebrafish. "Zebrafish. I always have to explain the stripes are horizontal, not vertical. Also...not zebras."

Biologist Christopher E. Smith offers the mantis fly. "Neither a mantis nor a fly."

There are, I have learned thanks to science writer Jason G. Goldman, macaroni penguins. He notes that "Macaroni penguins should never be stirred into cheese sauce."

Did you know there was a black ghostshark? Neither did I.

Brit Finucci, a Ph.D. candidate researching poorly known deepsea chondrichthyans (what?), explains the naming rationale. "Because its scientific name translates to the Batman water-hare." Batman Water-Hare. Isn't that a movie you'd want to see next summer?

I cannot remember the last time a Twitter hashtag was so enthralling, educational and fundamentally human. Here you can find the information that the American buffalo is actually a bison.

Perhaps, though, the top level of the podium is occupied by an innocent-looking striped fish whose name is apparently so rude that some scientists allegedly want to change it. What could this be? Why, it's the Slippery Dick Wrasse. It's often merely known as the Slippery Dick.

At #StupidCommonNames, though, marine biologist David Shiffman admitted, "No one said we want to change it..."

Should you have nothing better to do this Labor Day weekend, or should you be just trying to get your kids interested in something other than Madden 16, a trip to #StupidCommonNames isn't the worst idea.

Where else could they learn about the grateful midget and the puddingwife?

(Via Daily Dot)


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