Scientific names

Reading this post, which followed up on this post (which in turn was about this post). I was reminded of the binomial scientific name for the caracal being Caracal caracal.

For those uninitiated types, this scientific name is made up of the Genus name and the Species name. These are (generally) the final two stages of a long process of taxonomic ranking , starting with Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.
Phew. Thank goodness you don’t to remember all that, unless you’re a biology student.


So actually, we just use the last bit of this long list of identifiers:

Fullscreen capture 2016-07-11 103834 AM.bmp

And if you’re a microbiologist, you only ever use the scientific name to refer to your little friends: You’ll likely know about E.coli – that’s just short for Escherichia coli, but they’re all named like that: Staphylococcus aureus, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Thermodesulfobacterium hydrogeniphilum being just some examples thereof.

I love my job.

But all that nonsense was merely the preamble. Because now I wanted to know if there were any other binomial scientific names which were just the common name repeated.

Caracal = Caracal caracal, for example.

I actually knew of the lynx (Lynx lynx) as well, which, weirdly, is a pretty close relative of the caracal.

And there are others. Nearly, anyway:

The (American) Bison is Bison bison.
The (Green) Iguana is Iguana iguana.
The (short-tailed) Chinchilla – Chinchilla chinchilla.
The (Western) Gorilla aka Gorilla gorilla.
And who could forget the (Southern) Pudu – Pudu pudu?


And then there are some near misses like:
Rattus rattus, the Black Rat,
The Striped Hyena: Hyaena hyaena and
The Tokay Gecko – Gekko gecko.

But right now, I only have the caracal and the lynx as exact examples of binomial tautonyms being carried across to the common name for an animal.

Incidentally, the caracal also holds the record for being my daughter’s favourite animal, and my favourite wine.


While all and sundry are getting their knickers in a knot over the words printed on T-shirts, here’s a story that might have almost slipped under your radar.
File this one under “They’re not serious, right?”

Sadly, it seems that they are:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has instructed a TV advert depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man’s deodorant, to be withdrawn, as it could offend Christians.

A viewer who complained to the ASA about the advert said the suggestion that angels (God’s messengers) would literally fall for a man wearing this deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian, according to the ruling by the ASA’s directorate made on October 14. A copy of the ruling was sent to Sapa.

The advert for Axe deodorant depicts winged, attractive women crashing to earth in what appears to be an Italian town, and then being drawn towards and sniffing a young man who has used the deodorant. The text at the end of the ad reads: “Even angels will fall”.

Oh dear. Can I say that this decision is incompatible with my belief as an Atheist? Probably not, since I that seems to count for very little. But it is incompatible. Wholly incompatible.
And this incompatibility is made worse by the detail given for the ASA descision to ban the ad:

The directorate was concerned that the angels were depicted falling and, secondly, being attracted to a mortal man.

“As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires. This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.”

Firstly, since when has there ever been a problem with individuals falling in adverts? Are we now going to ban all ads which depict falling of any kind? The baby landing bum first on the bog roll? The woman parachuting despite it being “that time of the month”? Absolutely anything and everything for Elastoplast?

These are angels, for crying out loud. They’ll be fine, because – like the ASA point out – they’re immortal, see? Yep: in this ruling, the ASA has drawn a distinction between angels and their “heavenly status” and us mere mortals. In essence, they are suggesting that they believe that angels exist and that those angels have heavenly status, which they infer, confers immortality. Er… Halo?!?!

That single complainant, of course, is well within his rights to be offended and to complain. However, I do find it strange that despite this advert flighting across much of (predominantly Christian) Europe and the (predominantly Christian) United States, together with a host of add-ons such as the amazing augmented reality stunt at Victoria station, that he is the only Christian to be offended by this. As far as I can see, there have been no other instances of any part of this campaign being banned anywhere else in the world.
Even in the “nanny state” UK or the “sue now, ask questions later” US: no ban.

Could it then be that it is the complainant that is being over-sensitive rather than the advert that is being potentially offensive?

However, this is what we are going to have to accept going forward. When people choose to be offended at the slightest thing, the slightest thing becomes offensive.
Foschini group are taking t-shirts off shelves because a few loud people disagree with the wording on the front.
But does the juvenile legend “I put the STD in STUD – all I need is U”, really imply that the wearer is going to go all out to try and contract herpes virus from everyone he sees in an effort to appear more manly? Do you honestly believe that?
Do you think that when I wear a Nike t-shirt, I’m constantly Just Doing “It”, whatever “It” may be? Really?

I don’t envy the ASA, walking the fine line between the normal population and the often unnecessarily mouthy minorities. But when they make decisions like this one, they provide ammunition and impetus for more trivial complaints and they’re on a slippery slope.