Posts tagged with "zoology" - Faerye Net 2011-08-26T14:38:42+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Cuckoo bumblebees 2011-08-26T14:38:42+00:00 2011-08-26T14:39:37+00:00 <p>Awesome zoology discovery* of the day: <strong>the cuckoo bumblebee</strong>!</p> <p><img src="" align="left" hspace="10 px"><blockquote>They are a specialized lineage which has lost social behavior, and lost the ability to collect pollen, and are instead cleptoparasitic in the colonies of other bumblebees. Before finding and invading a host colony, a Psithyrus female (there is no caste system in these species) will feed directly from flowers. Once she has infiltrated a host colony, the Psithyrus female will kill or subdue the queen of that colony and forcibly (using pheromones and/or physical attacks) &#8220;enslave&#8221; the workers of that colony to feed her and her developing young.<br /> <em>-<a href="" target="links">Wikipedia</a></em></blockquote></p> <p>Okay, it&#8217;s also sort of sad, because bumblebees are adorable. (Just say it to yourself and try not to smile: &#8216;bumble&#8217;.) But it&#8217;s also weird and wonderful and unexpected. I love this stuff.</p> <p>*For the limited sense of &#8216;discovery&#8217; that means &#8216;I didn&#8217;t know this until I read it on the internet, but the scientific community has known it for more or less ever.&#8217;</p> I've been wrong my whole life! 2008-08-05T08:01:17+00:00 2008-08-05T08:01:17+00:00 <p>When you&#8217;re a kid, the facts that don&#8217;t make sense are all the more important for it. Other kids will fall into the same trap you did, and you can correct them. This is important stuff. These are the foundations of being right. &#8220;Koala bears aren&#8217;t bears,&#8221; for example; and &#8220;Panda bears aren&#8217;t bears.&#8221;</p> <p>Except <a href="">Giant Pandas are bears</a> and have been for years (that article is from 1985). Now, I&#8217;m not sure whether I already had a panda vs. bear opinion in preschool, but it&#8217;s quite possible I&#8217;ve been wrong about this distinction my entire life. The change took a while to percolate out into public knowledge &#8211; I remember the <a href="" target="links">zoo</a> feeding us the Proconyid (raccoon family) line on field trips when they showed us the <a href="" target="links">Red Pandas</a>. It took even longer to filter into my consciousness. I actually realized today, after the first shock of hearing &#8220;panda&#8221; listed among the bears on a nature special, that I have been told this before. The information simply broke against the wall of kindergarten certainty that Pandas Aren&#8217;t Bears (compounded perhaps with a later tendency towards <a href="" target="links">splitterism</a>) and fell away.</p> <p>So partially I&#8217;m blogging this so anyone else out there laboring under this misconception (and as enamored as I of Being Right) can learn the startling truth, and partially I&#8217;m admitting my error publicly so it will forever be cemented in my mind. From now on I will remember: Everything I thought I knew about Pandas was a lie!</p> <center><a href="" target="links"><br /> <img src="" title="Panda Cat, photo by fox_kiyo" width="240" height="180" alt="Panda Cat" border="0" /></a></center> An Oddness of Animals 2007-05-01T15:10:03+00:00 2008-06-08T12:03:04+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve always loved those strange names for animal groups with which English teems, and they were brought back to my mind by my sister, who was coming up against them in a crossword puzzle. I&#8217;ve read lists of them before, but I found a particularly nice one today <a href="">at the San Diego zoo website</a> (warning to sister sledge: contains answers to crossword clues.)</p> <p>Here are a few of my new favorites:<br /> A siege of herons<br /> A leap of leopards<br /> A scold of jays<br /> A smack of jellyfish<br /> A scurry of squirrels<br /> An intrusion of cockroaches</p> <p>Great crash of rhinoceroses, people, don&#8217;t you just <em>love</em> English?</p> SHOCKtopus! 2006-10-22T22:44:30+00:00 2008-06-08T12:41:57+00:00 <p>From the pages of <a href="" target="links">wikipedia</a>: </p><blockquote><p><b>Terminology</b> <br /> Fowler&#8217;s Modern English Usage states that &#8220;the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses&#8221;, and that octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic. Octopi derives from the mistaken notion that <em>octōpūs</em> is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinized) Greek, from <em>oktṓpous</em> (ὀκτώπους), gender masculine, whose plural is <em>oktṓpodes </em> (ὀκτώποδες). If the word were native to Latin, it would be <em>octōpēs</em> (&#8216;eight-foot&#8217;) and the plural <em>octōpedes</em>, analogous to <em>centipedes</em> and <em>mīllipedes</em>, as the plural form of <em>pēs</em> (&#8216;foot&#8217;) is pedes. In modern, informal Greek, it is called <em>khtapódi</em> (χταπόδι), gender neuter, with plural form <em>khtapódia</em> (χταπόδια). </p><p> Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries accept <em>octopi</em> as a plural form. The Oxford English Dictionary lists <em>octopuses</em>, <em>octopi</em>, and <em>octopodes</em> in order of descending frequency of use. The term <em>octopod</em> (either plural <em>octopods</em> and <em>octopodes</em> can be found) is taken from the taxonomic order <em>octopoda</em> but has no classical equivalent. The collective form <em>octopus</em> is usually reserved for animals consumed for food.</p></blockquote> <p>I am totally flabbergasted. I have been using &#8216;octopi&#8217; (though blessedly not on this website) for <em>years</em>! I guess I had better use &#8216;octopodes&#8217;, because it says &#8216;octopodes&#8217; is pedantic, and I can never pass up pedantry.</p>