Creativity unleashed

22 11 2009

I mentioned in my last school post (the one about set ups), that I’d used a modified version of The Future Is Wild‘s animal design activity.

While TFiW is more focused on evolution and decent with modification, my class was currently focusing on a more ecological unit – what roles do different organisms have in an ecosystem, how do they interact and how do we classify them.

Previous lessons had gone through self-made classification schemes, traditional classification schemes (e.g. The Classical Greek), and scientific classification schemes. The two scientific classification schemes were taught in my classes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Get the book on taxonomy fail

5 11 2009

But we're all mammals aren't we ... wait ... what ... that's not right

But we’re all mammals aren’t we … wait … what … that’s not right

Credit: 365:14 – Taxonomy Fail by sidesmirk, on Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution, Share Alike)





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.





Taxonomy Fail, on tour

20 04 2009

Seen in New Zealand:

Musical Taxonomy Fail

I can see that they may have been misled by the presence of body fur. However, a quick leg count one notices a superfuosity in limbs by an order of 50%. I also note the lack of nipples with which to feed its young.

We conclude this is not a mammal, and may be considering an action regarding false claims in advertising.





Big fat taxonomy fail

20 01 2009

That label says “Hippopotamus”.

Picture from Flickr.

Uploaded by Isthmene. Creative Commons (some rights reserved).





Taxonomy fail: lolcat edition

7 10 2008

Taxonomy fail – lolcat edition
fail owned pwned pictures

More in the Taxonomy Fail series.





Heureka!

18 09 2008

I’m all a bit confused about this discovery.

It’s a new species of ant, found in Brazil, so they naturally are going around calling it “the ant from Mars“.

The ant is so strange and un-ant-like they are placing it in a new sub-family of ants. I’m not even sure if I should be actually calling it an ant (It’s a maybe-ant). The maybe-ant sub-family split off very early from other ant families in terms of evolutionary divergence – which has lead people to draw similarities between the situation of monotremes and other mammals. So, it’s also being dubbed the insect platypus. It does not have anything nearly as cool as a five-pronged schlong, poison spurs or even a duck-bill. It just has a shit pair of legs at the back.

That’s right. It’s a cripple. Nature quotes an entomologist as saying the maybe-ant “doesn’t even look like it could walk at all”. It’s also blind. Has a “delicate” mouth. And has pigmentation issues.* It probably hasn’t been discovered before because it has just been wallowing in self-pity for its entire existence.

The closest living relatives of ants are bees and wasps. The maybe-ant doesn’t quite share many characteristics with its other airborne cousins. Much like platypuses don’t really resemble modern day birds or lizards much either. Further examination may however show some similarities.

*Update: I could add that it is spineless too, but I think that’s just rubbing it in.