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In praise of - comical taxonomy.

LET'S have fun with taxonomy.

However, before we do, let me be up front and confess that, before researching this learned nonsense, I wasn't clear what taxonomy was.Words set off all sorts of associations in the brainlobes, with some parts of the cranial interior lighting up brightly and others remaining resolutely dark.

In my dimmer recesses – covering roughly 92.8% of the landmass – taxonomy sounded like something to do with stuffing things economically. It means no such thing, as you probably know. There are umpteen definitions out there – is nothing simple? – but since you and I are busy men and women of the world, I'll define taxonomy for our purposes as the classification and naming of species. If you have another definition, go away.

My attention was attracted to the practice upon reading of the Obamadon gracilis. Already your forensic skills tell you this is named after yon President Barack Obama.

The taxonomers – is that a word? – under advisement insist they mean nothing derogatory by the ascription. "We're just having fun with taxonomy," they say, proving that it takes all sorts. Obamadon gracilis was a tiny lizard that disappeared along with the dinosaurs. Those of you fluent in Latin, as distinct from those of us who just look things up on Google, will know that odon is the Latin for tooth while gracilis means slender.

Slender Tooth Obama: kinda has a ring to it. Further research in taxonomy (see the Null Hypothesis website) throws up such delights as Abra cadabra (a mollusc); Apopyllus now (a particularly nasty spider); Eubetia bigaulae ("you betcha, by golly", a moth, as you would expect).

Another website, Buzzfeed, highlights Vini vidivici (the conquered parakeet) and Ytu brutus (a Brazilian water beetle). Scientists and their wacky sense of humour, eh?

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