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Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
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Puns: Double Meanings

Alderia willowi Krug et al. 2007 (sea slug) "The species name derives from several sources: (1) because the cerata droop over the edge of the body on large specimens, resembling a willow tree; (2) an homage to the first author's grandmother, who always sang him a song that starts, '... so I ask each weeping willow ...', and (3) a tribute to the character of Willow from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who (as played by Alyson Hannigan) embodied the idea of sexual flexibility, in recognition of the variable reproductive modes in Alderia." [J. Molluscan Studies 73:29]
Balaenoptera musculus Linneaus (blue whale) Musculus could mean "muscular," but it can also be interpreted as "little mouse." Linne would have known this and, given his sense of humor, may have intended the ironic double meaning.
Diodorus scytobrachion Kammerer et al., 2012 (Triassic dinosauriform) The fossils were found in Morocco. Diodorus was legendary king of the Berbers and son of the founder of Tangier; Diodorus Siculus was a first-century Greek historian who wrote about North Africa. "Scytobrachion" means "leathery arm" and refers to a presumed character of the beast and to Dionysius Scytobrachion, a classical mythographer who chronicled the mythical history of North Africa.
Esemephe Steiner, 1980 (darkling beetle) See Interesting Stories.
Hypogena triceratops Steiner, 2005 (tenebrionid beetle) As with the dinosaur, "triceratops" means "three-horned face." The beetle itself has three horns, plus it is named in honor of tenebrionid specialist Charles A. Triplehorn. [Annales Zoologici 55: 572.]
Koolasuchus Warren et al., 1997 (Cretaceous amphibian) Named for paleontologist Lesley Kool, with a pun on cold climate in which it lived.
Musa L. (banana) Linnaeus wrote that he wanted this one word to do the work of three. First, it is named after the Arabic word for banana, muz or muez, acknowledging the role of Muslem cultures in popularizing the fruit. Second, it honors Antonio Musa, doctor to Roman emperor Augustus. Third, it honors the nine Muses.
Peckena Gnaspini 1996 (leiodid beetle). Named after Dr. Stewart B. Peck, and pronounced in the same way as "pequena," Portuguese for "small," referring to its small size.
Prognathodon saturator Dortangs et al., 2002 (Upper Cretaceous mosasaur) Saturator means "he who gives satisfaction," referring both to the sharks which tore the corpse to shreds and to the amateur collector who discovered the remains. [Neth. J. Geosci. 81: 1]
Thalia L. (tropical plant, Marantaceae) Named after Johannes Thal (1542-1583), an herbalist who wrote a flora of the Harz Mountains, but also honoring Thalia, one of the Graces.
Varanus amnhophilis Conrad et al., 2012 (Miocene Greek monitor lizard) From Greek amnos and -philis, meaning "lover of lamb", alluding to large monitor lizard's habit of taking mammalian prey. Also, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is the specimen's repository. [PLoS ONE 7(8)]

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