We may love stupid pet tricks, but it turns out scientists hate stupid animal names. Now there's a hashtag for them.
Started by marine biologist David Shiffman, #stupidcommonnames, is populated with the names of animals, as well as vegetation, used by the general public that scientists find confusing, misleading, or just plain dumb.
The Washington Post points out that with the formal name of an organism, the genus and species is generally descriptive enough to give a researcher an idea of what kind of creature it is — if he or she understands Latin. Even if the name is in homage of the person who discovered the organism, or some other person, the name has some kind of meaning.
But the common names of some animals and vegetation are not only uninformative, they can be ridiculous. Case in point: the slippery dick, or Halichoeres bivittatus, a fish found in the tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean. In her entry for the poor thing, Sarah Keartes posts, "What did it ever do to you, science?"
Other names that contributors took offense to include the electric eel, which is not an eel; the mantis fly, which is neither a mantis nor a fly; the puddingwife, a fish that may, indeed, be another fish's spouse, which doesn't explain the pudding part, nonetheless; and the white spotted sea goddess, a sea slug and not a divine being.