Pharyngula

Taxonomy is an evil conspiracy

It’s true! They’re all arcane tormentors who like to confuse us with arcane rules and weird nomenclature. One example should suffice to show the truth. (Don’t try and tell me that a formal taxonomy tries to call these creatures merely “brown”. That’s just as sneaky.)

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew
    February 27, 2008

    Formal taxonomy calls them brown? It’s the other way around. A shade of brown is called squid by non-taxonomist English/Italian speakers.

  2. #2 Umlud
    February 27, 2008

    From the online etymology dictionary:

    cuttlefish O.E. cudele “the cuttlefish;” perhaps related to M.L.G. küdel “container, pocket;” O.N. koddi “cushion, testicle;” and O.E. codd (see cod).

    Somehow, this is funnier (to me) than the webcomic. How did the Old Norse “cushion, testicle” get used to mean “a cephalopod with a beak”?

    More implausibly, how did the Old English “Cod” (apparently not the same as “codd” = “bag, scrotum”, but actually “cod,” the fish) be linked to a cephalopod?

    I wonder…

  3. #3 Sean Craven
    February 27, 2008

    Well, I’ve got an alternative notion. I’ve seen photos in a National Geographic article showing giant cuttlefish on the Great Barrier reef curiously investigating divers and interacting with them in a seemingly friendly fashion. I’ve also seen a TV show where a researcher put his hand into a cuttlefish tank… the little guys shot over to him so fast they were splashing water up into the air. When they got there they fastened on to his hand and just nuzzled away.

    I’m pretty sure their name is a corruption of cuddlefish.

  4. #4 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 27, 2008

    The truth of the matter is simple to see
    Even vertebrates ought to be able–
    With Latin and Greek and some Sanskrit thrown in
    Etymology’s highly unstable.
    The meaning of “cuttlefish” predates these tongues
    To a language known only by God
    (And since God is quite fictional, better to trust
    In the word of this cephalopod)
    The origins, lost in the dust of the past
    Or diluted as ink in the ocean
    Are as follows (well, shortly–I need a small break,
    As this topic is fraught with emotion):

    C is for cute (which you plainly can see)
    U for unique (you can take it from me)
    T is for talented (so many ways!)
    T is for thoughtful (we really amaze)
    L is for loving (three hearts, you recall)
    E enigmatic (a puzzle for all)
    F is for friendly (not really so tough)
    I is intelligent (T’s not enough)
    S (cos we just like the sound) is for subtle;
    H for How cool is this thing called a cuttle!

  5. #5 Ray M
    February 27, 2008

    Sharp beak…sounds like cuddle

    Hmmm… only in North America, where you pronounce t’s as d’s. (rider/writer, cuddle/cuttle, etc).

    For UK English speakers there is no chance that a cuttlefish could ever be confused with a cuddlefish.

  6. #6 The Backpacker
    February 27, 2008

    Who would want to cuddle with an invertabret anyway. They are cold and often slimy. Now Marmots those are cuddly. And they are really cute. All you biology geeks need to get out of the lab and hang with a few of your fellow land dwelling Mamals. AND another thing, what is it with biologists and things that live in water. A few of my friends are bio majors and if it lives in water they love it.

  7. #7 Darby
    February 27, 2008

    I may have told this story before, but if you want to exploit cuttlefish to impress small children -

    When my son was small, we went to Sea World. In the dimly-lit building with the truly interesting creatures, there was a tank with a cuttlefish in it.

    Taking some information from, I don’t know, a Nova special or some such, I said, “Watch this.”

    I went up right next to the glass, where I figured I’d be visible from inside, and did little semaphore signals with fingers of both hands. The cuttlefish glided over, considered, and started to wave tentacles in response.

    The critter and I may possibly be engaged now, but it impressed the hell out of a six-year-old. And it was just cool.

  8. #8 MandyDax
    February 27, 2008

    Ia! Ia! Cuttlefish ftang! Isn’t it cuuuuuuuute?! ^_^

    I agree that this taxonomy is very confusing. For instance, cats are not closely related to catnip. The last common ancestor was over a billion years ago! Same with dogs and dogwood! Curses, biologists!!

  9. #9 Richard Simons
    February 27, 2008

    Somehow, this is funnier (to me) than the webcomic. How did the Old Norse “cushion, testicle” get used to mean “a cephalopod with a beak”?

    This reminds me of the Aberystwyth (Wales) town councillor who was upset that the university was buying many of the old hotels, especially along the sea front. He said that the university was like an octopus, spreading its testicles over the town.

  10. #10 mothra
    February 28, 2008

    The most deeply and closely held of all conspiratorial secrets has come to light. Taxonomists’ plans for global domination exposed! We had our plan. . .confuse the language so the words would mean what WE want them to mean. Then infiltrate the university system- be obsequeous, at most with only one or two individuals per school. Hiding out in quiet offics, biding our time getting papers published in refereed journals. Then, most cunning of all- indoctrinate the children, so they will in their turn become taxonomists and advance the plot.

  11. #11 Jaycubed
    February 28, 2008

    ps. There is no god.