Funny Names in Phylogeny with The “Blue Dragon” Nudibranch, my new favorite sea slug

The Blue Dragon. What a Nudibranch!

The Blue Dragon. What a Nudibranch!

So we all have that friend who’s really interested in animal phylogeny, the study of the evolutionary history of organisms and their groupings. Wait… we don’t all have that friend? Is it only me?

Well in any case, my phylo-friend (whose name is Margrethe, but who is not the Queen of Denmark) posted about an amazing recent discovery: the Blue Dragon, or Glaucus atlanticus, which washed up on the shores of Queensland, Australia recently.

Of course, my friend wouldn’t just stop at this, but instead had to up the ante by saying “Possibly my favorite nudibranch.”

I was baffled by the word, so replied with “You’re my favorite nudibranch. What the heck is a nudibranch?” Then she clarified that the nudibranchs (it’s pronounced nudi-brank… which is why the plural is nudibranchs and not nudibranches) are commonly known as sea slugs. I apologized for calling her a sea slug, then I realized she loves phylogeny and probably finds the nudibranchs beautiful and might have taken it as a compliment.

It turns out she did, thank goodness. I’d hate to offend someone by calling them a sea slug. Then we all lived happily ever after in our little castles of weirdness and esoteric interests!

Then I thought “nudibranch” was such a funny term, that it was worth further investigation.

Well, apparently the order nudibranchia is a big group. Nudi comes from the Latin word for “naked” (no real surprise there, I suppose) and branch comes from the Latin word for gills (which is a surprise). So they have naked gills.

Who comes up with this stuff? I can just imagine some moustachioed zoologist from the 1800’s saying, “You know, chap, I think ‘naked gills’ is a splendid phylogenic classification! Jolly good and all that rot!” and so the nudibranch was named. I don’t care if you have so-called “facts” on your side. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And now, I present, the BoFN’s first ever Nudi-calendar, courtesy of a little site known as Wikipedia. Enjoy the naked-gill action! Not safe for work… or is it?!?

Aeolidiella stephanieae... that's a funny name!

Aeolidiella stephanieae… that’s a funny name!

More Nudibranch action! Apparently this is Berghia coerulescens eating Aiptasia couchii. Poor couchii!

More Nudibranch action! Apparently this is Berghia coerulescens eating Aiptasia couchii. Poor couchii!

 

Apparently these nudibranchs are mating, those wild and crazy Nembrotha purpureolineata!

Apparently these nudibranchs are mating, those wild and crazy Nembrotha purpureolineata!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little detour into the Order Nudibranchia. Who knows what kind of wacky stuff the BoFN will come up with next? Until next time, make sure to know your audience before you tell a friend they’re your favorite sea slug!

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About Dave

Based out of San Diego, California. Co-founder of the Blog of Funny Names. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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21 Responses to Funny Names in Phylogeny with The “Blue Dragon” Nudibranch, my new favorite sea slug

  1. amariesilver says:

    I could have a little too much fun calling someone a nudibranch.

  2. wdydfae says:

    As a famous poet definitely did not write,

    Margarethe, are you grieving
    Over nudibranchs unsheathing?
    Gills, like whoa, buck naked man! You
    With sea slugs to care for, can you?
    Ah! as the heart grows older
    It will come to such sights colder
    By and by, nor spare a sigh
    When land slugs with slime trails slide by;
    And you step on them bare foot and cry.
    Euwwwww! No matter, friend, the name:
    Sorrow’s springs are the same.
    Nor snail had, no nor shell, except
    Walk around barefoot, whaddaya expect?:
    It is the blight man was born for,
    It is Margarethe you mourn for.

    http://www.potw.org/archive/potw29.html

  3. ksbeth says:

    marine fancy cousins of the naked mole rat?

  4. The Nudibranchs left me speechless with the floral copulation. I may have to go wash my eyes out with soap. 😉

  5. Arto says:

    Here I thought couchii was just a word for two or more sofas.

    I’ve seen a good number of nudibranchs the past few years. Not in person of course, but a lot of folks like to photograph them there creatures. Those, and anemones, and all kinds of multisyllabic swimmers.

  6. kerbey says:

    That blue and white one is so pretty; it looks like China that folks use on Thanksgiving. Such a nice cobalt blue. The stephanieae, however, looks more like one of those Swiffery mop things, like I could swish it all about the floor (after the Thanksgiving meal) and pick up stuffing crumbs and nonesuch. Never having heard the word before, I thought you were playing a nudi-prank instead of just a nudibranch.

    • Dave says:

      I’m not clever enough to pull off a nudi-prank like that.

      Good job connecting all of the pictured Nudibranchs to Thanksgiving. Just in time for the holidays!

  7. Marti says:

    Great post. Sorry I haven’t been around, you got lost in my reader, which I don’t tend to visit regularly, I rely on email notifications (must have been my initial set up). Very excited to hear about this slug, we’re off to the Whitsundays in Queensland in 2 weeks for a 10 day snorkel fest of the Great Barrier Reef

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