Sometimes scientists really love to show their sense of humor. Whether it's a common name or a Latin name, certain species are bestowed with names that are simply silly. Sometimes they're descriptive, which just shows how strangely interesting the animal is in and of itself. And sometimes the name sounds like it's straight from a children's fiction story. Here are some of our favorites.
Yep, that's right. Try saying that without a circus announcer's voice. Actually, the spots of this rare octopus species (pictured above and below) are unique to each animal, which means photos help researchers identify individuals. But still ... Wuuuuunderpuuus phoootogennnicusssssss!
And a lumpy-looking sucker it is. The lumpsucker uses modified pelvic fins that have evolved into adhesive discs to stick itself onto a surface like a rock, or as the second photo below, onto fingers.
Toad lumpsuckers (middle two) and Pacific spiny lumpsuckers (top and bottom two), demonstrate their adhesive abilities. (Photo: NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center/Wikimedia Commons)
Pleasing fungus beetle
There's not just one, but about 1,800 known species of this (relatively) pleasing-looking beetle that is indeed usually found feeding on the fruits of fungi.
Pink fairy armadillo
Pink fairy armadillos or pichiciegos are found in the warm sandy plains of Argentina. (Photo: Cliff [CC BY 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
It exists! And it's cute!! Forget about unicorns; we don't need any when we have pink fairy armadillos. And they are literally pink. It's impossible to look at this and not think it is straight from a fantasy novel.
Raspberry crazy ant
Not sweet. And not cute. But definitely crazy. This invasive species is originally from South Africa, but it's slowly spreading across Texas and the Southeast. It's named for the exterminator, Tom Raspberry, who first noticed them in 2002.
Satanic leaf-tailed gecko
OK, maybe this name isn't so ridiculous. One look at this guy and yes, one might agree he seems a bit on the evil-possessed side.
Need we say more? Well, maybe just this: it's a species of carpet shark. (Not that being a carpet shark helps matters much...)
Photo: Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr
Nothing says fierce quite like a gigantic slippery salamander, right? Well, maybe not so much. That's why it needs a name like "Hellbender."
The Ozark hellbender is one of the largest salamanders in the world. (Photo: Jill Utrup/USFWS [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
A chicken turtle seen in a backyard in Florida. (Photo: ajmexico [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)
No joke, it's because that's how it tastes.
A practical name, to be sure, based on the shape of the schnoz. But still.
Yep. Blobfish. Zero points for creativity on this one but, well, it's a fish and it's a blob so why not.
A red-lipped bat fish seen in the Galapagos. (Photo: Rein Ketelaars [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
Now we're talking! A fish that's painted up like a tartlet and has fins that kinda look like bat wings. Descriptive name, but ridiculous nonetheless.
A goblin shark with its jaws extended. (Photo: Dianne J. Bray / Museums Victoria [CC BY 3.0 AU]/Wikimedia Commons)
Not one but two types of bird species go in to naming this moth species.
A dragon that looks like a leafy branch and lives under the sea. Why not?
This guy looks like he deserves a name with more ferocity. But nope. He's just frilly.
A moustached puffbird seen in Manizales, Colombia. (Photo: Julian Londono [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
Nope, not an "Angry Birds" character. Just a puffy bird with a 'stache.
Ice cream cone worm
This is an ice cream cone worm or trumpet worm from the Oostendebank in the Southern North Sea, Belgium. (Photo: © Hans Hillewaert [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
Not nearly as appetizing as the name implies. Ice cream cone? Seriously?
Not that strange — just a couple of giant rogue feathers. It's more that this little guy is considered a tyrant that makes the name so ridiculous.
Fried egg jellyfish
Breakfast, anyone? All that's needed is a slice of sourdough toast.
Spiegeleiqualle, otherwise known as the fried egg jellyfish. (Photo: T.Friedrich [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
Screaming hairy armadillo
Chaetophractus vellerosus or screaming hairy armadillo seen in Patagonia, where it's also called Peludo in Spanish. (Photo: Arnaud Boucher [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons)=
Armadillo? Check. Hairy? Check. Screaming? And, check!
And don't think the list ends here! There are plenty more oddball names we'd love to have included, from the whimsical monkeyface prickleback and bone-eating snot-flower worm, to the more formal-sounding Ittibittium and Ytu brutus, to the just plain silly Venezuelan poodle moth, Gelae baen and slightly musical conehead. If you'd like to discover more of science's humorous side, start out with Encyclopedia of Life's list of species with funny English names and go from there.