Science Humour: Sometimes Coming Up With a Latin Name is a Joke

Sometimes scientists are so zonked after months of research, they end up naming the species they discovered the weirdest names. Read more to find out what they are!

Imagine this: you're a zoologist marooned for months on an island or in a jungle, far away from civilisation. Finally, your work is done, and you've discovered a new species - and now it's your responsibility to come up with his scientific name. You're so loony as this point that you barely put in effort into the name. You need a laugh after all those months of strenuous research - and so the official, Latin, the scientific name becomes a joke. Here are six examples of when this happened!

1. Bony-Eared Assfish

A species of cusk-eel found in deep sub-tropical and tropical waters, the name just sounds rude. Its Latin name is Acanthonus armatus, which, according to German ichthyologist Albert Gunther, loosely translates to spiny-donkey, thus the 'ass' part of the common name. 

2. Spongiforma Squarepantsii 

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Not Spongiforma Squarepantsii. A species of fungus from the genus spongiforma, this orange little organism has some resemblance to everyone's favourite cartoon sponge. Yes, it's named after Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and believe or not, there was some backlash to the naming. It was deemed 'frivolous', however, the mycologist who described the species said the team had the right to name it 'whatever they liked'. 

3. Pison eu

A species of wasp; saying this scientific name out loud only proves that zoologists, entomologists, taxonomists, and any other -ist you can think of- are possibly very immature. Yes. Yes, it is. It's 'piss on you'. 

4. Gelae baen

Again, this is another one you have to say it out loud to understand. A small, oval beetle is named after a candy it vaguely resembles- and the entomologists didn't stop there. The other species in the genu Gelae include Gelae belae, Gelae rol, Gelae fish and Gelae donut. 

5. The Genus Agra

This genus of Amazonian beetles has all kinds of puns in their Latin names- Agra vation, Agra cadabra, Agra phobia, and many more inside jokes- including Agra schwartzeneggeri. Arnold Schwarzenegger must be flattered to be dedicated to a beetle. 

6. Aha ha

An Australian species of wasp, entomologist Arnold Menke named it this as a joke... obviously. The story behind it? Menke received a box with insect specimens and he exclaimed "Aha, a new genus!", while his colleague responded with "Ha."- and thus they decided to call it Aha ha. Menke even changed his car license plate number to 'AHA HA'. 

So there you have it. The weird part of science. The funny part of science. The part that makes you think "Are these really PhD-holding-serious-scientist-doctors?" Yes, yes they are. 

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