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  • Call My Bluffalo: The B-Roll

    By Mark Carnall, on 8 May 2012

    Last week the Grant Museum hosted Call My Bluffalo, a panel event in the format of the popular game show Call My Bluff albeit with a zoological twist. The panel was made up of Dr Ian Barnes (Royal Holloway Univeristy), Dr Anjali Goswami (UCL), Professor Kate Jones (UCL, Institute of Zoology) and Dr Victoria Herridge (Natural History Museum). The star-studded panel do what they do best had to put in a lot of effort to contrive science lies and to try to dupe each other into believing made up etymologys of a range of zoological names. A task made difficult by the fact that sometimes the truth is far stranger than fiction. The event went very well judging from the audience reception (and of course the evaluation forms) but we ended up not using a round of questions we had planned. Rather than waste the effort putting them together we thought we’d put them up here for our readers to have a go themselves.

    Have a go at guessing the right answer in the comments. Obviously, this task is made slightly easier with the internet at hand but try not to ruin it for others. I’ll be posting the correct answers in a week’s time for those that can wait.


    1) Venatosaurus is a dinosaur genus named by a palaeontologist, and Star Wars fan,  after the Venator-class Star Destroyer,also known as the Venator-class Destroyer,  Republic attack cruiser and later Imperial attack cruiser, which was also one of the ships used extensively by the Galactic Republic during the later parts of the Clone Wars.

    2) Venatosaurus is one of the fictional genera of dinosaur created for the 2005 King Kong movie as director Peter Jackson was keen to create a realistic fiction to explain the presence of dinosaurs on the movies Skull Island

    3) Venatosaurus is the name of a sauropod dinosaur that has been misappropriated at least seven times since the 1980s. Originally it was proposed as the name of one of the world’s largest animals but the material was found to be misidentified and belonged to an existing genus. Over the next ten years the name was revived for new discoveries only to find that material was wrongly identified, highly dubious and in one instance applied to a chimera specimen (material from two individuals mixed together) the name is currently orphaned.


    1) Notamacropus is a subgenus of Macropus, the genus that includes kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies. Notamacropus is the subgenus for wallabies and was coined as in ‘Not A Macropus‘ in reference to the common confusion between Kangaroos, Wallaroos and Wallabies. .

    2) Notamacropus is a genus of Jerboa a hopping rodent in reference to the similarity between the two groups of hopping animals

    3) Notamacropus is a genus of giant fossil marsupial dunnarts. The genus is so called because two palaeontologists argued for many years  over the identification of some partial fossil material, one insisting it was Kangaroo and should be in the genus Macropus and the other certain it was a carnivorous marsupial. Upon the discovery of further remains the animal turned out to be a Dunnart and in spite the scholar who was correct forever enshrined the error of the other by naming it Notamacropus.


    1) Epitoky is the behaviour seen in crabs that live around deep sea vents. The crabs of various species gather around small smoke outlets and appear to take in the smoke as if it were a hookah. It is probably a behaviour to scald of epiparasites in the hot water that comes out.

    2) Epitoky is the behaviour observed in some Neobatrachian frogs when males present females with a bundle or ball of partially masticated insects as a gift to persuade them to allow mating.

    3) Epitoky is a form of reproduction observed in polychaete marine worms where the worms undergo a partial or complete transformation into an epitoke, a small ‘shuttle’ capable of sexual reproduction.

    Nessiteras rhombopteryx

    1) Nessiteras rhombopteryx is a new species of caddisfly described in 2011 from two specimens that got caught in the camera lense of a probe sent up to the edge of space by the Near Earth Space Surveilance Initiative (acronym NESSI). Due to the insects getting trapped on the camera the exact altitude these insects were caught at was 50km above the Earth in the stratosphere. In honour of the fortunate encounter, the new genus was erected.

    2) Nessiteras rhompbopteryx is the scientific name erected for the Loch Ness monster by Peter Scott in 1975 as only officially named taxa are able to be added to a British register of officially protected wildlife.

    3) Nessiteras rhombopteryx is the largest known species of dragonfly from 300 million year old deposits in France. With a wingspan of 2 foot (60cm) it has been proposed they fed on other insects and even amphibians

    Suggestions, thoughts and bluffs of your own in the comments please!

    We’d also like to thank Mark Isaak’s wonderful Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature which has been a staple bookmark since my undergraduate days and a great source of inspirations for questions and suggested bluffs for our event.

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