Taxonomy Ignominy

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Simon Halse writes...

In season 3 episode 2 or 3, Steven Fry says that marsupials aren't mammals, but they are. Marsupials are an infraclass in the mammalia class, infraclass being a further division of subclass...

An elf replies...

This quibble is probably a good time to give an explanation of how we deal with alleged mistakes. I wasn't in the studio for this particular show, and it's a long time since I saw it on television, so the first points of call are the show transcripts written by the fantastic Sarah Falk at - this is what was said:

Jimmy: I'll tell you what, though. All the indigenous mammals in Australasia are marsupials.
Stephen: Er... are therefore not mammals.
Jimmy [stares at Stephen in disbelief]

Whoops. Even if it wasn't blatantly obvious; a cursory google shows that this is totally incorrect. So how did we make the mistake?

The next thing to check is our database of facts, to see if the error is in there - all of our facts are sourced and need to be amended if they're wrong - but the fact is not in there and so it seems likely that it was a slip of the tongue by Stephen.

Next port of call are our research boards at, to see if the mistake has been mentioned before. Sure enough, QI creator John Lloyd, is at hand with an explanation of sorts...

"Stephen is not perfect. Like anyone else he makes the occasional mistake. Almost always these are spotted and corrected, sometimes they are not.

The mammals/marsupials thing is different.

I know perfectly well that marsupials are classified as mammals, but I let it stand because I am a mean bastard.

If Stephen wants to show off, that's his look out.


I would like to apologise profusely to Stephen for my behaviour. "

Usually, if a mistake such as this is made, we would correct it in the recording itself. If we miss it there, it would be cut out in the editing suite, but in this case it was left in.

Whether you think it was deliberate, or whether you take Mr Lloyd's explanation with a pinch of salt, hopefully the odd mistake that makes it to air doesn't detract from the show too much.

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Has anyone noticed that one of the equations behind Stephen Fry`s head is wrong?
It should read: (1+√5)/2 not (1-√5)/2.

I find that quite interesting.

It also seems you need to check more on Australian indigenous species and compare them with the rest of the world. I am having a wonderful time watching my collection of Seasons 1-3 on DVD when I got to Season 3 episode 6 and the mention of Sequoia tree being the fastest growing tree in the world.

I am sorry to say that that crown actually goes to the Australian Eucalyptus tree who like the Sequoia needs fire to germinate funnily enough.

The show is fantabulous!

Hmm... seems that QI has a 'thing' with matters Australian. On the episode that aired in Aust tonight (and I'm sorry, don't know what episode number it was), there was a question about the origin of the name of the kangaroo. Whilst the discussion proceeded, there was visual footage on the big screen of... a wallaby.

So it seems that not only does QI have problems recognising that marsupials are mammals, but it also seems QI doesn't know the difference between kangaroos and wallabies.

On one of the shows, a question sounds "What scandinavian king is in your cellphone". The answer given is Harald Bluetooth - "Because he united Norway, Sweden and Finland"

If I heard this correctly, theres 3 things wrong with that statement:

1) He did not unite Norway, Finland and Sweden. He united Norway and Denmark and was a danish king. He proclaimed himself as not only the ruler of Denmark but also the king to secure the norwegian kingdom. ALso called himself the one who christened the danes. Set in stone (the Jelling Stone).

2)Finland is NOT a part of Scandinavia. Scandinavia contains only Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Named by a roman. Scandia.

3) Bluetooth was named indeed after King Harald, not due to him uniting, but due to him being able to set frames for diplomatic measures to start communication and trade.

..And it would seem I posted this as a comment not as a new entry. Sorry 'bout that. :)

I've just watched a screening of QI on Dave this evening in which 'caesarian sections' were mentioned and just wanted to point out that 'cadere' was quoted as the root of the word 'caesarian' and that it meant 'cut'. My Latin is poor, but I do speak some Italian, in which language 'cadere' means 'fall' rather than 'cut' as Stephen stated. To 'cut' is 'tagliare' in Italian, which is probably still close to the Latin. So, I'm still not really clear on the derivation of 'caesarian'. Could you enlighten me further, please?

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This page contains a single entry by eggshaped published on June 19, 2011 11:55 AM.

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