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Molly Cule
61124.  Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:44 am Reply with quote

5. Gorilla gorilla gorilla is the scientific name for a gorilla, bison bison is the scientific name for a bison, what is the scientific name for a Puffin?

Fratercula arctica, which means "little brother of the north" in Latin. Little brother may also be interpreted as ‘little friar’ an allusion to the puffin’s black and white plumage which is reminiscent of a friar’s robes. A second connotation of little friar may be drawn from the puffin’s sometime habit of holding it’s feet together when taking off, suggestive of hands clasped together in prayer.

Puffinus Puffinus is the scientific name for The Manx Shearwater. The Manx Shearwater’s Latin name stems from “puffin” (Middle English “pophyn”), an Anglo-Norman word from the Middle Ages, originally used to mean ‘fatling’. The word was used to describe the podgy chicks of the Manx Shearwater, with which puffin chicks were confused. I suppose the confusion was quite easily made as both Puffin and Manx burrow to nest and have only one chick a year.

The Puffin was named scientifically by Francis Willoughby. An ornithologist who wrote books about birds and investigated the ‘swan song’, not believing that a swan really sung a lament just before death, he and Pliny alike. He published a book called Ornithology with John Ray (1628-1705) who was one of the first to lay down a system of taxonomy. Just before Linnaeus.

The bird’s flight across the top of the water inspired its name. The birds nest in holes and burrows. Willoughby wrote in 1678 that:

"They feed their young wonderous fat. When they come to their full growth, they who are entrusted by the Lord of the island, draw them out of their coney holes; and that they may readily know, and keep an account of the number they take, they cut off one foot and reserve it, which gave occasion to the fable that the Puffins are single footed".

The annual cull took place each year during late summer. The birds were eaten both fresh and pickled. The oil from their bodies was used for deoxidise? - preventing armour from rusting and was used as a source of lighting fuel before there was paraffin or electricity.


Puffins have also been called "clown of the ocean" and "sea parrot."

People used to claim that a puffin was actually a cross between a bird and a fish because of its superb ability to swim underwater. It tastes a lot like fish too. Catholics are allowed to eat Puffin during Lent, like beaver.

Willoughby was a rich man, he made money from coal but spent a lot on other interests, particularly on travels with JohnRay to look into flora, fauna, fish and birds. A plaque at Wollaton Hall, a big house he built and lived in reads he was ‘ambitious but unhappy and without an heir’. His house in now a Natural History Museum.

Wollaton Hall was replicated in Buckinghamshire for Baron Reyer de Rothschild, by Joseph Paxton who designed Crystal Palace. After Rothschild died the family could no longer keep the estate because of inheritance tax, the Labour government refused to turn the house into a museum in lieu of taxes so an incredible art collection was sold off and the house was sold to Maharishi Manesh Yogi of Beatle fame for Transcendental Meditation practicers and became HQ for the natural law party. Then it was sold to a hotel chain but the hotel is having problems getting full permission to build. The film has been used in Eyes Wide Shut and Batman Begins. Batman Forever was filmed in Webb Institute, New York, which has only one undergraduate program – naval architecture and marine engineering. All tuition is free thanks to a big endowment from William Henry Webb, a shipbuilder who set it up.

Manx Shearwater....

The first known literary reference to Manx Shearwaters at the Sound is probably in the Norse Njal’s Saga. The noise and attacks of birds (called ‘Ravens’ but more likely to be Manx Shearwaters) were interpreted as bad omens by the Viking chiefs Brodir and Ospak as their ships lay moored at the Sound before sailing to their defeat at the battle of Clontarf (1014) in Ireland.
In 2002 Britain’s oldest wild bird was a Manx Shearwater, which lived off the coast of North Wales. The birds migrate to South America in the winter. They are nocturnal.

Gorillas .....

Gorilla gorilla gorilla is the Western Lowland Gorilla, these are the most common gorillas. There are three other species of gorilla called the gorilla gorilla diehli, the gorilla beringei beringei and the Gorilla beringei graueri.

Remember the great stuff about Gorillas living in nests.

61132.  Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:06 am Reply with quote

Double-barrelled taxonymic names are called tautonyms, and they are permitted in zoology but no in botany: Daisy daisy is a song, not a flower.

Gorilla gorilla gorilla is a subspecies of the Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla).

Bison bison bison is also a subspecies: the Plains bison.

Vulpes vulpes vulpes is the Scandinavian Red Fox and Meles meles meles is the European badger. These aren't as useful to us because they aren't the same in Latin as English. Rattus rattus sort of is, though.

All from the QI DVD forum, thread starting at post 21801.

61136.  Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:12 am Reply with quote

I wonder if we could make it work like this:

Stephen: Many animals have doubled-up Latin names, called tautonyms. For example, Gorilla gorilla ...

Alan: the Gorilla

Stephen: quite right. Give him a point. ... Bison bison ...

Alan: the Bison

Stephen: Another point. Puffinus puffinus ...

Alan: the Puffin

Klaxons, lights, mayhem

Stephen: Oh dear! 10 points off!

61153.  Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:56 am Reply with quote

I like the wolverine: Gulo gulo.

61373.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:40 am Reply with quote

Can you believe in our last quiz match of the season last night we had the question "Which bird has the latin name puffinus puffinus"

I can't believe any other team in the town got that one right.

61390.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:06 am Reply with quote

See, this lark is already paying off.

Frederick The Monk
61495.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:09 pm Reply with quote

Bubo bubo (Eurasian Eagle Owl) is quite fun and Naja naja (Indian cobra) - but you wouldn't guess them from their Latin names.

Lynx Lynx is a good bet however as is Gazella gazella (Mountain Gazelle), Pudu Pudu (Pudú) and Iguana iguana (green iguana).

61502.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:33 pm Reply with quote

And Karma karma karma (chameleon).

And New York new york (so good they named it twice).

61571.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:41 am Reply with quote

I'm just glad nobody's mentioned Turdus turdus. That shows great maturity.

61572.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:47 am Reply with quote

There's one sitting outside my window at this very moment, and, oddly enough, he's crapping everywhere.

64368.  Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:53 am Reply with quote

Puffins are Fife’s third most abundant breeding bird.

Source: Bird Table, Spring 2006.

64994.  Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:22 am Reply with quote

Here's a good one:

The Wren - Britain's THIRD smallest bird (beaten by the Goldcrest and Firecrest) is Troglodyte Troglodyte...

65001.  Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:00 am Reply with quote

Troglodytes troglodytes, I think. :-P

Molly Cule
66041.  Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:23 am Reply with quote

The common chameleon is imaginatively named
Chamaeleo Chamaeleo chameleon


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