DAILY DIRT: How about something named Hamburgerus Eighingeri?


Daily Dirt for Friday, May 19, 2023

Obviously, some scientists have way too much time on their hands … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 612 of The Daily Dirt.

1. One of the perks of discovering a new plant or animal is getting to name it whatever you want, although there are some rules about making certain the name is unique and not a personal insult or profane.

The website interestingfacts.com reports that while each species needs to have a two-part Latin name, in which the first part is the organism’s genus and the second is its species name, scientists can get mighty creative with the latter. Many choose names that reflect the organism’s physical appearance or commemorate a mentor or national leader. Others, however, use movie stars, musicians or other celebrates for their inspiration.

Here are just a handful of those examples:

Grouvellinus Leonardodicaprioi: Scientists discovered a shiny black water beetle in Borneo’s Maliau Basin in 2018. They named it for Leonardo DiCaprio, but not because of his Oscar-winning performance in “The Revenant” or his timeless turn in “Titanic” — instead, the scientific team wanted to honor the actor and his foundation for “promoting environmental awareness” and bringing the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss into the spotlight.”

Conobregma Bradpitti:Actor Brad Pitt appears to have no physical similarities to C. Bradpitti, a brownish wasp from South Africa that resembles a medjool date with legs. Its discoverer, Dr. Buntika A. Butcher, spent long hours studying the new species in the lab under the benevolent gaze of a poster of Pitt, and she decided in 2016 to name the insect for her favorite movie star.

Aptostichus Barackobamai: In 2012, prolific species-discoverer Jason Bond at the University of California-Davis, named a new type of trapdoor spider after Barack Obama, the “first African-American president of the United States and reputed fan of spiders.” But that’s not the only organism named for the 44th POTUS. Obama is the eponym for a blood fluke, a lichen, a diving beetle, a bee, a fish commonly called the spangled darter, and even a species of puffbird — not to mention several extinct creatures. 

Agromyza Princei: Freelance naturalist Charles Eiseman found an unusual track, made by the larvae of a fly called a leaf miner, on a black raspberry plant in Connecticut in 2016. When the adult fly emerged from the leaf, Eiseman realized it was a new species. Colleague Owen Lonsdale asked him to name it, and, as Eiseman later wrote, “Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’ popped into my head, so I decided to call it Agromyza Princei.”

2. I think it would be safe to say that contemporary language — including insults — is a bit more flowery than we might have heard in days of old, such as the 1950s, 1960s,1970s and probably even into the 1980s.

There are four-letter bombs and hyphenated phrases used in mixed company today that we would have never been heard a generation ago.

Some of the tamer “old-fashioned” language is still in use today, but more in a joking manner. Back “in the day,” though, it was a serious verbal slap.

How many grew up hearing some of the following? 

  • “Oh fudge”: Yes, we all know what today’s substitute for “fudge” is.
  • “Party pooper”:The term emerged around the 1950s to describe the wet blanket friend in the group. 
  • “Heavens to Betsy”: This anachronistic phrase was once used to illustrate astonishment, and can occasionally be heard from a grandparent.
  • “Put A Lid On it”:This phrase may sound like a charming shut-down today, but back in the ’50s it meant business, according to relationship expert Davida Rappaport on bustle.com.
  • “Get bent”: Years ago, telling someone to “get bent” basically meant you wanted them to drop dead or go away. The term was once extremely popular in the 1950s, but now has that old time-y flair. “One of the most interesting parts of this (old) curse/slang term is how language has evolved throughout time,” writer Beverly Friedmann said. “If you told someone to ‘get bent’ today you probably wouldn’t have any problems.”

3. Fun fact: Before the arrival of the rubber eraser around 1770, people often used small pieces of lightly moistened bread to erase pencil mistakes. 

However, those bread-based erasers succumbed to mold, and eventually, rot. Let’s just say the rubber substitute was a welcome innovation.

Steve Thought O’ The Day — For those wondering, the first mass-produced pencils were in the early 1600s. So it took more than 100 years after that to come up with a suitable “eraser”? 

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News and I really have no idea what I just read.

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