A Dear Reader who calls themself Ophistokont made me curious about what this intriguing word might mean. It’s very rare, with only seven Google hits and no entry in Merriam-Webster. Ophi- should have to do with snakes. -stok- calls stoichiometry to mind, having to do with elements. -ont has to do with being. Something that forms the basic element of a snake-like thing, maybe?

I didn’t make that up unaided. Those seven Google hits explain (mostly in German) that an ophistokont is the end of a single-cell being from which its motile flagellum extends. These little whip-like outboard motors have been the object of creationist speculation along the lines that “this is too cool to have evolved by natural selection”: speculation refuted here.


  1. #1 RPM
    April 12, 2007

    Are you sure he/she’s not misspelling opisthokont?

  2. #2 Lars L
    April 12, 2007

    Those of you who wonders what Martin is up to at the moment kan get a glance of him in action here:http://arkland.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/martin-and-the-masters-of-metals/

  3. #3 El Cid
    April 12, 2007

    Are the “Intelligent Design” types thinking that they have a Deity capable of Intelligently Designing these adaptations, but Not Intelligent Enough to hide evidence of His Own Handiwork?

    Their All-Powerful, All-Knowing God is *incapable* of making it *look* like His Creation evolved naturally?

    Wow. What a putz deity that would be. Ha.

  4. #4 Martin R
    April 14, 2007

    RPM, I’m not sure if they mean “ophisthokont”, but that word is even rarer and means some kind of ur-organism evolving away from us bilaterians.

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