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Nutty Nomenclature

Nutty Nomenclature


All species of organism are given their own specific name by the taxonomist who first describes them.  Every now and again the taxonomists allow themselves to have a little bit of fun.  This is our guide to some more mischievously named species.



Name:
Fiordichthys slartibartfasti

Don’t get it? You haven't read enough Douglas Adams. Slartibartfast appears in the brilliant Hitchhiker's Guide of the Galaxy as a character who helps build planets - he specialises in fjords.

What is it?
It's a small cod-like fish also known as the Fiordland brotula. Not much is known about its habits, but it's got a fairly hefty set teeth which suggests it's an active carnivore.

Where’s it found? The Fiordland region of the South Island of New Zealand, hence the name. It's really rare - only six specimens have ever been recorded .

When was it first named? 1995.

Who deserves the credit? Chris Paulin, a marine biologist with the Museum of New Zealand.

Fiordichthys slartibartfasti, the Fiordland brotula, is a rare species of fish. But it looks like its in safe hands. Image: Clive Roberts/Museum of New Zealand.Is there a picture? Even better than just a picture of the beast on its own, we got one with the very man who bestowed such a cool name (Click on the thumbnail). There's also a drawing here.

Chris Paulin isn't a one-name wonder in the
field of imaginative taxonomy - he also named another brotula fish Bidenichthys beeblebroxi; it has markings that  look like a second head. Incidentally the paper which described both of these species was accepted for publication on 11th March 1994 - Douglas Adams' 42nd birthday.

The fish in the title image is a related species called the bearded brotula or cusk eel. Very little is known of the biology of this fish but according to various websites they taste excellent.


Coming soon in Nutty Nomenclature
: Pieza rhea and Heerz lukenatcha.

You might also like some Peculiar Periodicals or Phunny Phobias.


Images: Antidio & Paolo Rossi & Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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