Posts tagged nomenclature

Top: Bichir and trunkfish [top], Electric Catfish [bottom]
Center: Electric “eel” - Electrophorus electricus
Bottom: Indo-Pacific Moray Eel - Muraena nudivomer (now Gymnothorax nudivomer

A while ago I saw this Bird and Moon illustration of animals with misleading names, but I kept seeing people asking, “Ok, if they’re not THAT, then what ARE they?” For some reason, I completely forgot that I wanted to cover those questions, but hey, better late than never!

The electric eel isn’t an eel - it’s a knifefish. Knifefish (Gymnotiformes) are actually more closely related to electric catfish (Siluriformes) than they are to true eels (order Anguilliformes), but developed their electroconductive organs through convergent evolution - the first signs of the organ evolution in both the electric eel and the electric catfish appeared after they shared a common ancestor.

In addition to electric eels and electric catfish, electric rays (order Torpediniformes) are the only other “strongly electric” fishes - that is, fish that produce electric shocks over one volt, and use their electrogenerative organs to either stun or kill prey and/or attackers. There are many fish that can produce a small current (“weakly electric”), but it is used for electrolocation and electrocommunication, instead.

Images:
Fishes of Zanzibar: Acanthopterygii. J. Van Voorst, 1866.
The Standard Natural History. John Sterling Kingsley, 1884.
Wild life of the world. Richard Lydekker, 1915.

kidsneedscience:

Born in 1707, Carl Linnaeus would rise to such a level of greatness that the philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau once said “Tell him I know no greater man on earth,” and was heralded by many of his contemporaries and apostles as Princeps botanicorum - the Prince of Botany. This praise was not without merit: he’s the reason we name almost everything in biology the way that we do. Prior to Linnaeus, the science dealing with naming, organizing, and classifying organisms, called taxonomy, was a disorganized and confusingly complex mess. The word taxonomy is derived from an irregularly-conjugated Ancient Greek word taxis which means arrangement, and the Ancient Greek suffix -nomia, derived from the Ancient Greek word nemein, meaning to manage.

Linnaeus had a passion for botany, and while he went to school to study medicine, his long-term goals always included learning about plants. At 25, he won a grant to travel to Lapland and document the local flora and fauna. While there, he began to classify the flowers he found with what we now know as the bionomial classification system - from the Latin bi, meaning two, and nominus meaning name. Prior to this system, species were given long, many-worded descriptive names, and there were several competing outlines for classifying plants and animals into groups, none of which were particularly accurate or helpful to a scientist not intimate with the specific branch of biology the outline was designed for. 

The binomial classification system uses two identifiers for a species - the “generic name” (also known as its genus), and the “specific” name (also known as the species). Linnaeus introduced this system in his book Systema naturae, first published in 1735. Even though the first edition was basic and just twelve pages long, it introduced to the scientific community a system that was simple, understandable, easy to remember, and easy to add new species to. Throughout his life, Linnaeus and his apostles continued work on Systema naturae, and by its 10th Edition in 1758, it classified over 4400 species of animals, and 7700 species of plants.

Portrait of Carl Linneaus by Hendrik Hollander, 1853, in the public domain.

Image from Haeckel’s Tree of Life in the public domain.

Guest post for Kids Need Science.

Taxonomy and Nomenclature 101

weavercat:

lostbeasts:

biomedicalephemera:

“Comparison of ancestral and existing horse”

The lower figure is a model of a full-sized Eohippus, placed beneath the skull of a modern horse, to show that the skull of the modern horse is larger than the entire body of its ancestor.

Despite being one of the most commonly cited “facts” in basic paleontology (as found in many elementary school science texts), this size comparison is actually incorrect. Geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn distributed (largely correct, aside from this point) educational pamphlets citing the size of Eohippus to be comparable to a “small fox terrier” to schoolhouses, to promote the science of paleontology, around the turn of the century.
His pamphlets reached so far and wide that the “fact” still persists to this day in many textbooks. Eohippus was about twice the size of a fox terrier, which is about 2.5 times the size of a modern horse skull.
Origin and History of the Horse. Address before the New York Farmers Metropolitan Club, 1905.

i much prefer the name Eohippus to Hyracotherium

Well, I prefer Hyracotherium as it is more closely related to paleotheres than ‘Eophippus’. Also, in college text-books, the freaking fox-terrier bit is still cited. Also, those feet look.. odd. Maybe it’s just me but they don’t look quite right. I thought the fifth toes on the forelegs were up ‘higher’ on the foot.

The fifth toes weren’t higher up on the foot until Mesohippus, about 15 million years later. Hyracotherium was very wolf-like in its feet, though you can see from its leg structure that it had already begun the transition into a true prey animal, built for running long distances.
Re: those college texts: It’s hard to criticize them currently, as a LARGE fox terrier can reach up to 15 inches, which would have been the size of a small "Eohippus". However, when the pamphlet was written by Osborn, the standard size of a fox terrier was 13” tall - a small fox terrier would have been less than 8” at its withers, and was much smaller than the horse he purports it to represent.

weavercat:

lostbeasts:

biomedicalephemera:

“Comparison of ancestral and existing horse”

The lower figure is a model of a full-sized Eohippus, placed beneath the skull of a modern horse, to show that the skull of the modern horse is larger than the entire body of its ancestor.

Despite being one of the most commonly cited “facts” in basic paleontology (as found in many elementary school science texts), this size comparison is actually incorrect. Geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn distributed (largely correct, aside from this point) educational pamphlets citing the size of Eohippus to be comparable to a “small fox terrier” to schoolhouses, to promote the science of paleontology, around the turn of the century.

His pamphlets reached so far and wide that the “fact” still persists to this day in many textbooks. Eohippus was about twice the size of a fox terrier, which is about 2.5 times the size of a modern horse skull.

Origin and History of the Horse. Address before the New York Farmers Metropolitan Club, 1905.

i much prefer the name Eohippus to Hyracotherium

Well, I prefer Hyracotherium as it is more closely related to paleotheres than ‘Eophippus’. Also, in college text-books, the freaking fox-terrier bit is still cited. Also, those feet look.. odd. Maybe it’s just me but they don’t look quite right. I thought the fifth toes on the forelegs were up ‘higher’ on the foot.

The fifth toes weren’t higher up on the foot until Mesohippus, about 15 million years later. Hyracotherium was very wolf-like in its feet, though you can see from its leg structure that it had already begun the transition into a true prey animal, built for running long distances.

Re: those college texts: It’s hard to criticize them currently, as a LARGE fox terrier can reach up to 15 inches, which would have been the size of a small "Eohippus". However, when the pamphlet was written by Osborn, the standard size of a fox terrier was 13” tall - a small fox terrier would have been less than 8” at its withers, and was much smaller than the horse he purports it to represent.

The Pronghorn - Antilocapra americana
The pronghorn is still colloquially known as the “prong-horned antelope”, even though it’s not actually related to the true Old World antelopes, which are native to Asia and Africa. It fills a similar ecological niche, and appears very similar, due to convergent evolution.
When humans first arrived in North America, there were five species of Antilocarpa extant, but the other four have since gone extinct. The other North American Artiodactyla were much larger than the pronghorns are. In fact, the fawns of these ruminants are so small at birth (only a few lbs) that they’re not uncommonly snatched by golden eagles, in smaller harems that cannot effectively defend their offspring while eating.
Quadrupeds of North America. John James Audubon, 1854.

The Pronghorn - Antilocapra americana

The pronghorn is still colloquially known as the “prong-horned antelope”, even though it’s not actually related to the true Old World antelopes, which are native to Asia and Africa. It fills a similar ecological niche, and appears very similar, due to convergent evolution.

When humans first arrived in North America, there were five species of Antilocarpa extant, but the other four have since gone extinct. The other North American Artiodactyla were much larger than the pronghorns are. In fact, the fawns of these ruminants are so small at birth (only a few lbs) that they’re not uncommonly snatched by golden eagles, in smaller harems that cannot effectively defend their offspring while eating.

Quadrupeds of North America. John James Audubon, 1854.

When is a pepper not a pepper?

Have you ever wondered what the relation between the ground black peppercorns in a pepper shaker is to the chili peppers and bell peppers on the plate? Turns out, they’re pretty much unrelated, aside from both being plants and from planet Earth.

Black (and white or green, for that matter) peppercorns (Piper nigrum) are a member of the Piper genus, and are native to South and South-East Asia. Peppercorns were one of the many luxury spices that came across the Eurasian continent on caravans, at least as far back as the Greek empire.

Like the other spices, they were relegated solely to the rich, and were used for medicinal purposes as well as in cooking. Black and long pepper (Piper longum) were used in treatments for diarrhea, cholera, constipation, hoarseness, gangrene, hernia, heart disease, insomnia, joint pain, sunburn, and tooth abscesses.

The active piquant compound in black pepper is called piperine, and while it is structurally and evolutionarily unique from the piquant compound in chili peppers (capsaicin), it interacts with the tastebuds in a way that triggers the same chemical pathways to the brain.

This similarity, in fact, is why chilies (Capsicum) are known as “chili peppers" - when Christopher Columbus brought the first chilies back to Europe in 1493, the warming, spicy taste that chilies imparted led to them being classified in the same group as black pepper. We now know that the "peppers" found in the New World belong to the family Solanaceae, and are related to deadly nightshade, potatoes, tomatoes, and tobacco, among many other economically and pharmacologically important plants. Black pepper, meanwhile, is distantly related to magnolias, but otherwise in a group of relative-unknowns.

The sweet peppers or bell peppers are a close relative to the chili peppers, but are unique in the Capsicum genus in that they do not produce capsaicin, and as such are not “hot” like the others. By the way, what’s the difference between red and green bell peppers? Nothing but age! They’re the same species - a cultivar of Capsicum annum, which happens to be naturally somewhat hot. You won’t find a bell pepper in the wild, as they were developed by humans!

Images:
Top: Spices, Their Nature and Growth. McCormick and Co., 1915. Depicting Capsicum, chilies, and peppercorn varieties.
Bottom Left: Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuterndem. 1885. Capsicum annum.
Bottom Right: Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuterndem. 1885. Piper nigrum.

Skiagraph (X-ray) of a dicephalus dibrachius
Using the roots "di-", "-cephalus", and "-brachius", the description of this x-ray is made clearer:Di-: two-cephal-: pertaining to the head-brachi-: pertaining to the arms
From these, a description of "two-headed two-arms" is now known.
Dicephalic dibrachius twins are also known as “dicephalic parapagus (dibrachial)”, with parapagus referring to the fused pelvis that is shared between the two.
Dicephalic parapagus twins can also be “tribrachial” (three-armed) or “tetrabrachial” (four-armed), depending upon how far down the torso the conjoining begins.
The Principles of Pathology. J. George Adami, 1912.

Skiagraph (X-ray) of a dicephalus dibrachius

Using the roots "di-", "-cephalus", and "-brachius", the description of this x-ray is made clearer:
Di-: two
-cephal-: pertaining to the head
-brachi-: pertaining to the arms

From these, a description of "two-headed two-arms" is now known.

Dicephalic dibrachius twins are also known as “dicephalic parapagus (dibrachial)”, with parapagus referring to the fused pelvis that is shared between the two.

Dicephalic parapagus twins can also be “tribrachial” (three-armed) or “tetrabrachial” (four-armed), depending upon how far down the torso the conjoining begins.

The Principles of Pathology. J. George Adami, 1912.

Aconitum variegatum - Wolf’s Bane, Monkshood
Aconitum is thought to be from the Greek ἀκόνιτον - “without struggle”. And it is without struggle that this plant causes death.
This beautiful perennial flower can be seen through the autumn months in forests and taigas in Europe, and is popular as an ornamental in gardens, lending color long after summer blooms have faded.
It can also be found in the traditional bikh poison, nepaline, in the writings of Ovid and Dioscorides, and in the bodies of murdered Borgia family members.
Flora Conspicua; a selection of the most ornamental flowering, hardy, exotic and indigenous trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Richard Morris, 1826.

Aconitum variegatum - Wolf’s Bane, Monkshood

Aconitum is thought to be from the Greek ἀκόνιτον - “without struggle”. And it is without struggle that this plant causes death.

This beautiful perennial flower can be seen through the autumn months in forests and taigas in Europe, and is popular as an ornamental in gardens, lending color long after summer blooms have faded.

It can also be found in the traditional bikh poison, nepaline, in the writings of Ovid and Dioscorides, and in the bodies of murdered Borgia family members.

Flora Conspicua; a selection of the most ornamental flowering, hardy, exotic and indigenous trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Richard Morris, 1826.

Ornithoptera urvilliana (now Ornithoptera primus urvillianus) - D’Urville’s Birdwing
Like all birdwing butterflies, the D’Urville’s Birdwing is considered endangered, and threatened by their beauty. Serious collectors have caused the extinction of one species of birdwing already, and one other is critically endangered.
While once considered a distinct species, D’Urville’s Birdwing can interbreed with other members of Ornithoptera primus, and produce fully fertile and viable hybrids, and as such is now generally considered a subspecies, instead of a distinct species.
Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. M. Charles D’Orbigny, 1848.

Ornithoptera urvilliana (now Ornithoptera primus urvillianus) - D’Urville’s Birdwing

Like all birdwing butterflies, the D’Urville’s Birdwing is considered endangered, and threatened by their beauty. Serious collectors have caused the extinction of one species of birdwing already, and one other is critically endangered.

While once considered a distinct species, D’Urville’s Birdwing can interbreed with other members of Ornithoptera primus, and produce fully fertile and viable hybrids, and as such is now generally considered a subspecies, instead of a distinct species.

Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. M. Charles D’Orbigny, 1848.

"Ringworm" - Tinea faciei
As most of you know, ringworm isn’t really a “worm”, or even an animal parasite. The condition is caused by one of over forty species of fungi (called dermatophytes) that live on the skin surface, and feed on keratin. The spores thrive on warm, wet surfaces, but can entrench themselves almost anywhere on the body. The name of the condition is determined by the location of infection - tinea capitis is on the scalp, tinea pedis is on the foot (athlete’s foot), tinea cruris is in the groin (jock itch/”crotch rot”), etc.
As the fungi are extremely easily spread by person-to-person contact, kids and people in institutional settings tend to contract the condition much more often than independent adults.
The original treatments for ringworm included mercury (oral and topical), sulfur, and iodine. Treatment of the scalp (tinea capitis) was considered more difficult than on the body, and frequently, x-ray treatment was used to kill the fungus.
The routine and accepted use of ionizing radiation to cure tinea capitis led to a long-standing incident among the Ashkenazi communities in Europe and the Middle East, called the "Ringworm affair". Starting in 1910, several hundred thousand people (mostly children) from close-knit Jewish communities were treated for the condition, in an attempt to eradicate it from a population known to routinely harbor or manifest the condition. However, the treatments were poorly-executed, the patients rarely had full information as to what was being done to them, and the excessive exposure to ionizing radiation is estimated to have killed at least 6,000 children shortly after receiving treatment (within 2 weeks). At least 100,000 other people have had long-term effects from the program, such as cancers, genetic anomalies in their children, and thyroid function problems. 
The x-ray treatment program, which was for the most part well-intentioned but disastrously-executed, did not end until 1959, when the first effective and relatively safe antifungal compound, griseofulvin, was developed.
Illustrated Skin Diseases, An Atlas and Text-Book. William S. Gottheil, 1906.

"Ringworm" - Tinea faciei

As most of you know, ringworm isn’t really a “worm”, or even an animal parasite. The condition is caused by one of over forty species of fungi (called dermatophytes) that live on the skin surface, and feed on keratin. The spores thrive on warm, wet surfaces, but can entrench themselves almost anywhere on the body. The name of the condition is determined by the location of infection - tinea capitis is on the scalp, tinea pedis is on the foot (athlete’s foot), tinea cruris is in the groin (jock itch/”crotch rot”), etc.

As the fungi are extremely easily spread by person-to-person contact, kids and people in institutional settings tend to contract the condition much more often than independent adults.

The original treatments for ringworm included mercury (oral and topical), sulfur, and iodine. Treatment of the scalp (tinea capitis) was considered more difficult than on the body, and frequently, x-ray treatment was used to kill the fungus.

The routine and accepted use of ionizing radiation to cure tinea capitis led to a long-standing incident among the Ashkenazi communities in Europe and the Middle East, called the "Ringworm affair". Starting in 1910, several hundred thousand people (mostly children) from close-knit Jewish communities were treated for the condition, in an attempt to eradicate it from a population known to routinely harbor or manifest the condition. However, the treatments were poorly-executed, the patients rarely had full information as to what was being done to them, and the excessive exposure to ionizing radiation is estimated to have killed at least 6,000 children shortly after receiving treatment (within 2 weeks). At least 100,000 other people have had long-term effects from the program, such as cancers, genetic anomalies in their children, and thyroid function problems.

The x-ray treatment program, which was for the most part well-intentioned but disastrously-executed, did not end until 1959, when the first effective and relatively safe antifungal compound, griseofulvin, was developed.

Illustrated Skin Diseases, An Atlas and Text-Book. William S. Gottheil, 1906.

ofpaperandponies:

biomedicalephemera:

I understand the reptiles here, but I can’t figure out the Acus marina. It looks like an elongated seahorse, but from all the other literature that I’ve looked at, no one actually knows what it is, besides “not an insect”. This was a book that used a non-binomial naming system, and as such is very difficult to figure out the equivalent species as classified by other authors.

In response to the anon question I got asked about this old post, “Acus marina” is a pipefish. “Acus marina” literally translates to “Sea-needle” or needle-fish. Both the pipefish and seahorses were once classified in the broad group that included reptiles and amphibians.

ofpaperandponies:

biomedicalephemera:

I understand the reptiles here, but I can’t figure out the Acus marina. It looks like an elongated seahorse, but from all the other literature that I’ve looked at, no one actually knows what it is, besides “not an insect”. This was a book that used a non-binomial naming system, and as such is very difficult to figure out the equivalent species as classified by other authors.

In response to the anon question I got asked about this old post, “Acus marina” is a pipefish. “Acus marina” literally translates to “Sea-needle” or needle-fish. Both the pipefish and seahorses were once classified in the broad group that included reptiles and amphibians.

Peter Pallas Procured a Pack of Pulchritudinous Plumages

ofpaperandponies:

People from Stephen Colbert to Kate Winslet to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have animals named after them in an honorary way. Peter Pallas also has two animals honorarily named after him, but he also published the original descriptions of quite a few species, himself!

Peter Simon Pallas - (1741-1811) 

Pallas was a German-born and educated Russian zoologist. The first animals that he made original descriptions of were unclassified taxidermied creatures in a Dutch museum in the Hague. Later, after Catherine II invited him to teach at St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, he made several expeditions to central Russian provinces, Lake Baikal, the Ural Mountains, and the upper Amur. He amassed an impressive collection of minerals, plants, and animals. Empress Catherine II was very impressed with his work, and paid Pallas 2,000 rubles for his entire collection (500 rubles above the asking price), allowing Pallas to keep his collection until he died. She later gave him a large estate, where he lived until his second wife died.

Pallas went back to Berlin in 1810, with permission of the Emperor. He died there the next year. The majority of his original botanical and zoological collection remain in St. Petersburg.

So what did he discover?

Pallas’s critters past break!

Read More

Physalia pelagica [Physalia physalis] - The Portuguese Man-o-War
All the fascinating biological facts about the Portuguese Man-O-War aside, did you know that its name was actually coined as a derisive snipe at the Portuguese navy? Powerful and feared for centuries, they were in a period of steep decline during the 19th century. The appearance of the Man-O-War, especially when washed ashore, struck mid-century English explorers as a capsizing ship, or a sail with no boat to propel. 
In the end, I wouldn’t call the name completely derogatory. This siphonophore is the epitome of pain for most people who encounter them…they may look goofy, but unless you’re a loggerhead turtle, blue sea slug, or blanket octopus, it’s still not much to laugh at. The first two creatures eat these guys as a main part of their diet, and the blanket octopus is apparently *crazy* and will rip tentacles off of the Man-O-War, waving them around as a defensive measure.
Animaux Venimeux et Venins. Marie Phisalix, 1922.

Physalia pelagica [Physalia physalis] - The Portuguese Man-o-War

All the fascinating biological facts about the Portuguese Man-O-War aside, did you know that its name was actually coined as a derisive snipe at the Portuguese navy? Powerful and feared for centuries, they were in a period of steep decline during the 19th century. The appearance of the Man-O-War, especially when washed ashore, struck mid-century English explorers as a capsizing ship, or a sail with no boat to propel. 

In the end, I wouldn’t call the name completely derogatory. This siphonophore is the epitome of pain for most people who encounter them…they may look goofy, but unless you’re a loggerhead turtle, blue sea slug, or blanket octopus, it’s still not much to laugh at. The first two creatures eat these guys as a main part of their diet, and the blanket octopus is apparently *crazy* and will rip tentacles off of the Man-O-War, waving them around as a defensive measure.

Animaux Venimeux et Venins. Marie Phisalix, 1922.

Actinomycosis of the Neck
Despite its name, actinomycosis is not a fungal infection. Originally thought to be a mycosis of people who chewed on straw or grass, the bacteria that causes this condition (Actinomyces species) are actually anaerobic organisms that thrive in weakened or already-infected areas of the mouth and neck, and occasionally infected areas of intestine or appendix.
Prior to antibiotics and modern hygienic standards, the incidence of this infection was as high as 1 in 100,000 people, but it was still considered a rare disease of humans. In animals, however, Actinomyces cause a condition called lumpy jaw, which was (and is) far more common than human infection.
These days, the bacteria is generally seen in those who have poor dental hygiene, or who have had x-ray therapy to their gums and oral mucosa to kill cancerous cells. It’s sensitive to penicillin and other basic antibiotics, with no resistances noted as of yet, but it can take months to years to completely clear up an infection.
Introduction to Dermatology. Norman Walker, 1911.

Actinomycosis of the Neck

Despite its name, actinomycosis is not a fungal infection. Originally thought to be a mycosis of people who chewed on straw or grass, the bacteria that causes this condition (Actinomyces species) are actually anaerobic organisms that thrive in weakened or already-infected areas of the mouth and neck, and occasionally infected areas of intestine or appendix.

Prior to antibiotics and modern hygienic standards, the incidence of this infection was as high as 1 in 100,000 people, but it was still considered a rare disease of humans. In animals, however, Actinomyces cause a condition called lumpy jaw, which was (and is) far more common than human infection.

These days, the bacteria is generally seen in those who have poor dental hygiene, or who have had x-ray therapy to their gums and oral mucosa to kill cancerous cells. It’s sensitive to penicillin and other basic antibiotics, with no resistances noted as of yet, but it can take months to years to completely clear up an infection.

Introduction to Dermatology. Norman Walker, 1911.

Medical Eponyms: Legacy of the Anatomists

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, real or fictional. They can be found in every discipline of academia, but are particularly prevalent in medicine and physiology.

There are signs, reflexes, diseases, syndromes, medical instruments, and almost everything else you can think of, named after the discoverer, inventor, or someone else significant in the term’s development. Often the names become so associated with what they refer to that the historical figure is completely forgotten, even among those who use the term every day.

In light of that, let’s check out a few of the real people who have their legacy preserved in the parts of the body associated with their name -

Anatomical Eponyms -

Eustachian tube: Named after Bartolomeo Eustachi, a 16th-century Italian anatomist. Though very little is known about his life in general, he was physician to nobility and religious figures, and was unusually open (for the age) to new “innovative” ideas about anatomy not put forth by Galen, something his contemporaries actively fought. The Eustachian tube is a 3-4 cm canal that connects the middle ear to the nose, which maintains equal atmospheric pressure on either side of the eardrum. Admirer of Eustachi Antonio Maria Valsalva  first coined the term “Eustachian tube” around 100 years after Eustachi’s death.

Fallopian tubes: Named after Gabriele Falloppio, one of the most important anatomists of the 16th century, and a contemporary of other notables such as Eustachi and Vesalius. He corrected many of Vesalius’ mistakes in myology, and wrote some of the most detailed works on the inner ear and sexual organs to date. The Fallopian tubes are two fine ciliated tubules in females, leading from the ovaries to the uterus, which carry mature ova away from the ovary during ovulation.

Organ of Corti: Named after Alfonso Giacomo Gaspare Corti, an Italian anatomist who performed some of the first microscopic studies on mammalian hearing in the mid-19th century. His methods of preserving the cochlea were able to effectively allow him to discover some of the tiny mechanisms of hearing that hadn’t been previously understood. The organ of Corti is the organ in the inner ear that has the auditory sensory cells, or “hair cells” - those things your doctor warns you can’t re-grow if you listen to music too loudly!

Cowper’s Glands: Named after William Cowper, the late-17th-century English anatomist, who was the first to describe these glands. Though considered a great surgeon and anatomist in his own right, there was an unfortunate incident where he published several plates of Govard Bidloo’s musculature works under his own name (with no mention of Bidloo), and there was a very heated exchange between the two men and their supporters. The Cowper’s glands are small glands in the male, on either side of the prostate gland, and release pre-seminal fluid. This fluid neutralizes the acidic traces of urine in the urethra, which has the potential to kill the spermatozoa. 

Haversian Canal: Named after 17th-century (I sense a bit of a trend here…) English anatomist Clopton Havers. He was a physician with a keen interest in microscopy and bones, and was the first to document several unique substructures in both compact and spongy bone. The Haversian canals are small hollow canals that run within the longitudinal axis of compact bones, which generally contain one or two capillaries and a nerve. They deliver nutrients to the living bone cells.

Bundle of His: Named after Wilhelm His Jr., the late-19th-century Swiss cardiologist and anatomist. He practiced and taught medicine in Berlin, Germany, and only became a cardiologist later in life. His earlier work on diseases led to his name being  used as one of the eponyms for trench fever, which is a pretty horrendous disease of war. The bundle of His is also known as the atrioventricular (AV) bundle, and is a collection of cardiac muscle cells specialized for electrical conduction, essential for a rhythmic heartbeat.

Islets of Langerhans: Named after Paul Langerhans, a 19th-century German physiologist, pathologist, and biologist. He was the son of a physician and was keenly interested in anatomy from an early age, and many of his most important discoveries were before he turned 30. He was also keen on biology, and did work on the fauna of Syria and the surrounding areas. The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain the endocrine cells. They’re most well-known for producing insulin.

Circle of Willis: Named after Thomas Willis, a 17th-century English physician and founding member of the Royal Society of London. He also belonged to the circles that the many notable contemporary Oxford scientists comprised. Though he had a very well-off medical practice, his association with the Oxford experimenters led to significant time spent in the dissection room and trading ideas. Willis wrote about rudimentary psychological principles, neurology, and the anatomy of the brain. The Circle of Willis is a circle of arteries at the base of the brain. It creates a level of redundancy for the brain’s blood supply, meaning that if one part of it gets blocked or narrowed, the brain can stay fully oxygenated by getting blood from another artery that connects to the Circle.

Of course, this is only a few of the many medical and anatomical eponyms out there, but they’re some of the ones you tend to hear about a lot but might not know the origin of.

Next time I’ll cover Purkinje fibers, the Node of Ranvier, the Loop of Henle, Malpighian bodies, Meissner's corpuscles, Volkmann’s canals, Sharpey’s fibers, and Herring bodies (which are not fish). 

Sources and Further Reading:

Who Named It?

MedEponyms

What’s in a Name? The Eponymic Route to Immortality.

singularnarrative reblogged your photo: Death’s-Head Hawkmoth - Acherontia atropos There…

So does this mean there are moths named Clotho and Lachesis as well? Please say yes

The other two Death’s-Head Hawkmoths are A. styx and A. lachesis. :3 There are also venomous snake genera called Clotho and Lachesis!