Kamera lens

     

    Although the first description of Kamera lens, previously known as Monas lens, is dated to 1773, little was known about this single celled organism until just a few decades ago. It was in 1991 when scientists must have thought, “Hey, we should use a camera lens to see this species better.”

    Photo Credit: Pablo Loera Gonzalez

    Vini vidivici

     

    The name Vini vidivici, which translates to “I came, I saw, I conquered”, is slightly ironic given that this Pacific parrot became extinct somewhere between 700-1,300 years ago. They must have forgotten the concur part.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia

    Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides

     

    Don’t worry, there’s no clever meaning that surfaces after you say this name out loud. At 42 characters, this small Indian fly has the longest scientific name of any species.

    Photo Credit: Norman E. Woodley

    Pieza

     

    Neal Evenhuis is something of a legendary comedian in the entomological community. He has used his sense of humor to name everything from Phthiria relativitae, as a pun on the theory of relativity, to Carmenelectra, after the famous model Carmen Electra. But perhaps what he’s best known for is the punny genus Pieza, which he named in 2002. This type of mythicomyiid fly must have made him hungry, because there is Pieza pi, Pieza rhea, and Pieza kake.

    Photo Credit: Bishop Museum

    Pison eu

     

    Because we’d like to be mature, we will leave it up to you to sound this one out. Let it suffice to say that entomologist Arnold Menke must have been stung by this Central American wasp one too many times.

    Photo Credit: Natalie Tapson/flickr

    Ittibitium

     

    Bittium is well known genus of small sea snails and mollusks that are found all across the globe. So what name did scientists choose when they discovered a genus of mollusks? Ittibitium.

    Photo Credit: 2009 Moorea Biocode

    Pharlapiscus

     

    While not nearly as fast or famous, scientists named the newest breed of Australian sea horse Parlapiscus in honour of 20th century Australian champion racehorse Phar Lap. Unfortunately, the short, snout-nosed sea horse was recently adopted into the existing Hippocampus genus.

    Photo Credit: Mohammed Al Momany

    Spongiforma squarepantsii

     

    In 2010, a new species of mushroom found in Malaysia surprised scientists with its spongy appearance so much so that they couldn’t help themselves and name it after everyone’s favorite resident of Bikini Bottom.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia

    Agra

     

    With nearly 600 species of Amazonian beetles in the Agra genus, acclaimed entomologist Terry Erwin, who is responsible for naming of over half the genus, decided to put his punning ability to the test. There’s the intolerable Agra vation, the magical Agra cadabra, the scary Agra phobia, the abominable Agra sasquatch, or its sister species Agra yeti, and the headless Agra ichabod.

    Photo Credit: Karolyn Darrow

    Gelae baen

     

    What do you name a small, oval, shiny beetle? Well, the food it most resembles, of course. Say Gelae bean out loud and it should become immediately evident. Other species in the Galae genus include Gelae rol, Gelae fish, Gelae belae, and Galae donut.

    Photo Credit: taringa.net

    Ninjemys oweni

    Richard Owen, a famous 19th century biologist, originally placed this massive Pleistocene era turtle skull in the Megalania genus. But in 1992, scientists decided this incredible fossil deserved a slightly more interesting name. The proceeding paper explained the reclassification as: ” ‘Ninj’ after ‘Ninja’, in allusion to that totally rad, fearsome foursome epitomising shelled success, and ’emys’ from the Latin for turtle.” Oweni refers to Richard Owen, so the rough translation is “Owen’s Ninja Turtle”.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia

    Ba humbugi

    It’s hard to imagine anyone could ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed in Fiji, but when scientists discovered this snail on the remote Pacific island, they opted to name him after the crankiest man in literature, Ebeneezer Scrooge.

    Photo Credit: G.M. Barker

Gallery: Weirdest species names

By AG STAFF | March 12, 2014

Scientists do have a sense of humour after all. While the Latin scientific names may seem formal, behind some of them are in-jokes and puns that will make you groan.