Taxonomy bugs (I mean fail)

12 07 2009

When I was trawling through the internet for some taxonomy fails to feature I came across some in the flickr stream of bug girl (from bug girl’s blog) – specifically these cases where an incorrect insect was used to illustrate an article on the insectoid origins of carmine, a common dye  that can be used in foods (the article made mistakes beyond just the wrong picture – read at bug girl).

At the time I decided not to run them on the blog. I mean identifying insects is tough work. They are  the most diverse group of animals on the planet. I got a migraine trying to wrap my head around the 50-70 marsupials of Dasyuridae which fit into the category “oversexed hoppy rat-like thing which may or may not have a pouch” – differentiating 1,000s of species, when your samples are usually smaller than your fingers – that’s hardcore. So, in my ignorance I was willing to forgive a news editor who uses a relatively unknown insect to represent another relatively unknown insect*.

Scientific American is slightly less easier to forgive when they use the same beetle with the incorrect story. It then gets a little bit crazier as editors decide to use their own stock imagery – any old insect will do, even a freaking ladybug.

This is not a once off. Bug girl highlights another capture of “bugs are bugs” in which stinkbugs are used to represent bed bugs (though, while they may only drink plant sap, I still would not want the former in my hotel room).

Or there is this epic taxonomy fail Alex Wild at myrmecos blog spotted on iStock Photo – either that or someone mutated a Drosophila a bit too much.

Oh dear…

And to leave you with a picture to round things off:

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

*Before entomologists send me hate mail – after my scale insect mimic identification, I now kow how different a carmine scale insect differs from the beetle pictured, so I can understand your frustation better. But hey, whatever, they’re still just bugs. Hate mail can be directed to zayzayem [at] hotmail [dot] com.





Taking the piss out of dingoes

22 09 2008

…and spraying it over Tasmania’s new growth forests.

Now this is an interesting “weird” science story. Dingo urine has been chosen as an innovative natural marsupial repellant.

But what sort of threat do kangaroos pose to lumberjacks and pulp mills exactly? Why is cyanide being used to kill native fauna in the first place?

Read the rest of this entry »