Unscientific Science Names

Under the system developed by Linnaeus, animals are given Latin names so everyone can be sure they are talking about the same things. But sometimes scientists like having fun with the system.

The giant fish from the Jurassic era called Leedsichthys problematicus because nobody could establish how big it was. It was the world’s largest bony fish, but the bones were made of cartilage which rarely survives fossilisation, so paleontologists had to xtimate from piecemal finds so thought it to be 7.6m long. A recent find near Whittlesey in peterborough has allowed its length to15m and lived on plankton that were trapped by a mesh over its gills.

It seems sometimes scientists take out their frustration on the objects of their studies, as with entomologist Terry Erwin who named a Peruvian beetle Agra vation.

It seems a lot of animal reearchers are sci fi fans, as Harrison Ford has inspired the names of 3 critters: a California spider Calponia harrisonfirdi, an ant called Pheidole harrisonfordi and best of all, a trilobite called Han solo.

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