Re: Tolkien in taxonomy
- There was a tardigrade on television the other day.
Wasn't a fossil with a large eye named after Sauron not long ago? And an imaginary creature of the future with a very long tongue was named Grima!
- Cute! Do you know if it is actually taken from Tolkien, or directly from the Norse?
What about the diminutive hominid from Indonesia or thereabouts known colloquially as hobbit? Does that count?
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2013 19:22:25 -0800
Subject: [eldil] Tolkien in taxonomy
Rather far from the literature and a bit frivolous, this, but I just found out about an animal with a formal scientific name taken from a character in The Hobbit.
This would be "Beorn leggi", a tardigrade (or water bear!) found as a fossil in Canada. The "leggi" is from the name of a student of the discoverer.
There may be other Tolkien names in biology, but I haven't heard of them. Has anyone?
BTW, if one has any interest in biology, and especially in extreme biology, tardigrades are amazing creatures and I recommend the Wikipedia article, in which I found this reference. Teaser: they can survive a few minutes in boiling water, and days in the vacuum of space or at the bottom of the ocean, not to mention up to 10 years of dehydration. I am not making this up.
- On Feb 12, 2013, at 5:03 AM, Richard Lyman wrote:
>Nice. I missed that news.
> There was a tardigrade on television the other day.
> Wasn't a fossil with a large eye named after Sauron not long ago?
> And an imaginary creature of the future with a very long tongue was named Grima!Also nice, and it shows the readings that more or less sober scientists pursue in off hours; but real, internationally recognized names seem more impressive.
Let's just hope that no one digs up some prior reference to the Beorn critter, named by its discoverer after a Disney character! (Apatosaurus is still annoying after all these years)
- On Feb 12, 2013, at 8:06 AM, Andrea Luxenburg wrote:
> Cute! Do you know if it is actually taken from Tolkien, or directly from the Norse?Interesting proposition. Hadn't occurred to me. On general principles (i.e., accessibility of the name) I'd bet on Tolkien.
[gloating on your behalf] Made me look! [/gloat] Turns out the original paper is in the public domain and available by following a footnote in Wikipedia.
This has a link to the full PDF.
'Origin of name: The name Beorn is that of the now storied magical bear of the Wilderland in the Third Age of Middle-earth. "Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears
of the mountains..." (J. R. R. Tolkien, 937, The Hobbit).' [errors in the scan of the article corrected]
BTW, Legg is the person who actually collected the fossil.The analysis and the naming were done by Kenneth W. Cooper.
I continue to be amazed by the world of the Internet.
> What about the diminutive hominid from Indonesia or thereabouts known colloquially as hobbit? Does that count?Matter of opinion, I'd say. It's great fun, but a nickname is not so impressive as something formally published and adopted as the unique official name.