Taxonomic Trivia


Vampire Squid from Hell

How do new species get their names?
When scientists were educated in Latin and Greek it was easy.
They found something else that is vaguely similar
and named the new wriggler for that genus.
The species name was invented
from a particular feature in latin or greek.

Then “common” names developed – in no way universal –
for a phantasmagoria of bizarre ocean creatures
pinning on their most outstanding features,
like the vampire squid from hell =
so-called Vampyroteuthis infernalis;

or the fat family of football fish, Himantolophidae,
with faces only a mother could love;
or the comely female anglerfish, Cryptopsaras couesi
so sexy she attracted not one but two tiny parasitic males.

You wouldnt want to meet one of these in the depths –
the weird and wonderful umbrellamouth gulper
AKA Eurypharynx pelecanoide –
talk about all mouth and trousers!

And what about his kissing cousin,
the six foot long Saccopharynx lavenbergi
with its rows of sharp little teeth,
Like pythons of the deep,
they swallow prey much fatter than themselves,
downing their victims whole, of course,
which is why they’re called “gulpers.”

I’m glad I’m called Viv and not
short fat silly old bat!

If you want to see what some of these weirdly named creatures look like, go to Deep Sea Bestiary click on the images along the top to find names and descriptions.

Creative Bloomings has us searching for found poetry from newspapers or other poets, our choice. As I am in the middle of studying a delightful course “Exploring our Oceans” from Southampton University’s FutureLearn series, my mind is decidedly fishy, hence this piscatorial digression edited from some of the course materials, expecially the linked Bestiary.


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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2 Responses to Taxonomic Trivia

  1. This is just delightful! That vampire squid looks carved from wood.


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