So Nice They Named It Twice: Gorilla and Bison

I have a fascination with scientific names that have an identical (or nearly identical) genus and species epithet. So nice they named it twice! Here are somebrief introductions to some of these plants and animals. If you know of any more, feel free to include them in the comments and I will add them to my list.

Gorilla gorilla

Cross River gorilla, Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon. Photo by Arend de Haas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gorilla gorilla is commonly known as the Western gorilla and is divided into 2 subspecies: western lowland gorillas and Cross River gorillas. They are critically endangered great apes endemic to western Africa. After chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas are humans’ closest relatives. Unfortunately human activities including poaching, commercial logging, and civil wars are primarily to blame for the gorillas’ decline.

Gorillas live in groups of up to 20 individuals, with a dominant silverback male as well as several females and their offspring. Despite their immense size and fearsome teeth, their diet consists mainly of plant matter and invertebrates.

Bison bison

American bison. (Photos by Eadweard Muybridge, animation by Waugsberg)

There are only 2 living species of bison: the American bison (Bison bison) and the European bison (B. bonasus). Despite commonly being referred to as ‘buffalo’, bison are distantly related to buffalo. However, bison are very closely related to cattle and are sometimes bred and called ‘beefalo’. As recently as the Ice Age there were other species of bison (with very impressive horns) wandering the plains of North America and into Central Asia and Western Europe (B. antiquusB. latifronsB. occidentalisand B. priscus).

Until relatively recently, bison roamed across much of North America: from the Appalachian Mountains to eastern Oregon and from northern Mexico to Alaska. Unfortunately, as settlers spread across what would become the United States they took advantage of this abundant source of meat (as anyone who has played Oregon Trail knows). Today bison are restricted to isolated patches in the Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada.


This Week I Found: April 19-25 2014

Do April showers bring May flowers?

Why do Hammerhead Sharks have hammer heads?

Meet to the sailfish: the fish with a deadly weapon on its face.

I always forget about amphisbaenians. (They’re reptiles.)

Sometimes turtles eat bones.

Because sloths spend much of their lives upside down, they ‘tape’ their internal organs to their ribs so they can breathe.

How do you study the evolution of animal intelligence?

The phases of the moon impact animal behavior.

Why humans and Neanderthals had different spines.

Icarus should have flown closer to the sun.

The story of Einstein’s brain.

How well do you understand IUDs?

Are you up to date with your vaccinations?

How to get rid of old prescriptions.

A simple explanation of poop transplants.

How to live forever“.

10 fun facts about the Earth.

7 things we learned between Earth Day 2013 and 2014.

How much warmer has your state gotten since the first Earth Day?

What was the world actually like in 4004 BCE? (Hint: that wasn’t the day the world was created.)

Shooting lasers at the moon during the lunar eclipse.

The US military is preparing for a ‘climate change war‘.

I add my thesis to lol my thesis.

Things I Found This Week: April 12-18 2014

La Brea’s megafauna attracts the visitors, but a fossil bee tells the real story of California’s past.

A grad student recreated a fossil plant and it’s beautiful.

And the debate continues: Commercialization of fossils.

Geological maps of Middle-Earth.

A map of the United States based on the nearest National Park.

A map of the places in the United States where no one lives.

Dying in a Living Room‘: the exotic pet trade is a dangerous thing.

How living walls save lions and cattle.

Another GoPro, this time a view from beneath a giraffe, and another inside a leopard’s mouth.

Stop calling hyenas disgusting.

Sleeping on the job: guard dogs mated with wolves.

Best job I’d never heard of: polar bear poop tracker.

Alligator snapping turtles turned out to be 3 different species, but either way they’re endangered.

What do golf courses have to do with salamanders?

Don’t worry, you don’t actually swallow spiders in your sleep!

The discovery of a new insect sex organ!

How ferns became masters of shadow.

The truth about the Gulf oil spill.

Human Races May Have Biological Meaning, But Races Mean Nothing About Humanity‘.

How is Captain America like a Wood Frog?

Your cell phone can hear if you’re depressed.

Brazil is a dangerous place for environmentalists.

Clouds blocked my view, but did you get to see the lunar eclipse ‘Blood Moon’?

Really, you should watch Cosmos.

What do we know about ‘The Waters of Mars‘?

Saturn may have spawned a new moon.

Like 2048, but with chemistry.

The eastern United States might have been cold, but for the rest of the world, this winter was warm.

Ontario, Canada has stopped using coal to generate electricity.

What happens to a Peep in a vacuum?

A statistical analysis of paintings by Bob Ross.

People Like Their Music Served Medium Funky‘.

The best gif. Ever.

Alex Dainis finally has another Bite Sci-zed video!

This Week I Found: April 6 – 11 2014

The Cambrian Carnival of Animals.

How much do you know about pterosaurs?

Some prehistoric animals look like aliens to us.

This is why you should document everything: a reunited, reconstructed slab of dinosaur footprints.

When Evolution’s Controversial, Declaring a State Fossil Can Get Tricky‘: the battle for South Carolina’s state fossil.

Hummingbirds have got it going on and diversity is booming.

The Tet Zoo manifesto: even the most ordinary creatures are amazing.

Drunken Prairie Voles Help Explain Alcohol’s Demons‘.

How one species of bat became seven.

White-nose syndrome has spread to bats in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Nature’s deformities can be beautiful and enlightening.

Shark fin imports may have dropped 90% in Hong Kong and China, but that’s not the whole story.

19 fish not to eat (and their sustainable alternatives).

The importance (and revival) of studying anatomy.

The Aunt who inspired the evolutionary theory that proved the value of aunts.

Confident memories can be completely wrong.

Do color blind people see more colors when they take hallucinogens?

Chemophobia can be more dangerous than chemicals.

Why it’s difficult to recycle cell phones.

10 reasons you should be watching Cosmos.

How the Cosmos remake came to be.

Star deaths are beautiful.

How to Turn a Pencil Into a Diamond‘.

What a computer background can show us about climate change.

Ditch plastic water bottles, 23 national parks have!

A geological map of Westeros.

Timelapses of glaciers show how they flow.

This Week in Science: September 21-27 2013

Pregnancies stay with you forever.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Temnospondyls‘.

A Russian camera trap caught a picture of a golden eagle taking down a deer.

Trilobites were adorable and curled up into little balls.

Paleontologists found an ancient walking whale in Peru.

There are so many different types of snake fangs.

A sad reason why you should take care of your trash: Peanut.

In paleontology, the present is the key to the past, but the past is the key to the future. Fossil crabs might offer insight on the future of reefs.

This 34 million year old frog ‘mummy’ is remarkably preserved.

I’d never heard of a mud volcano before, but one in Pakistan was powerful enough to make an island.

Tiger salamanders are adorable, especially when they are CT scanned.

An interactive guide to the IPCC climate change update.

Time lapse of disappearing glaciers.

A half-ton freshwater stingray.

The things people do for science. This time, it’s scaring squid with a toilet brush.

I don’t know about you, but I love close-up shots of sauropod bones.

‘Your Dinosaurs Are Wrong’. I agree, dinosaur toys are terrible.

This Week in Science: September 14-20 2013

Warty Prowfish are very strange looking.

In Defense of the Blobfish‘.

I learned ‘The Paleontologist Theme Song‘. Can I get my degree now?

Some bugs have musical genitals.

The natural history of asses.

A map of Europe since 1000 in 3 and a half minutes.

Times, they are a-changin’: tweets in peer-reviewed articles.

Some animals have names that would make a middle schooler giggle.

The rules of Bill Nye, The Science Guy.

Nanotyrannus isn’t real, really‘.

You can learn the life history of a whale from its ear wax.

Dinosaur feathers found in Canadian Amber‘.

You might know someone who is a chimera, or has multiple different genomes.

South Korea is trying to build an invisible skyscraper.

‘How many diseases can a New York City rat give you?’

Liechtenstein currently has the most skewed gender ratio in the world.

Four new species of legless lizards found in California, including one found at the end of one of the runways at LAX.

Scientists have mapped the genomes of endangered big cats.

Who wouldn’t like to put a dinosaur in a wind tunnel to study early flight?

String theory, explained to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.

And a song about starfish.

Dinosaur hand position could have been more diverse than we thought.

This video from the back of an eagle is absolutely amazing.

Some areas are more vulnerable to climate change than others.

What caused the Cambrian Explosion?

Some entomologists sacrifice themselves for a good photo.

Leaves make good thermometers.

This Week in Science: September 7-13 2013

A British man released 1,000 crickets into his garden because he liked the sound.

Why did T. rex have such short arms?

Not even Darwin liked vultures and now they face extinction.

Climate Change Leaves Hares Wearing The Wrong Colors‘.

Sauropod neck bones are cool.

Newts are also cool.

Why islands make little animals big and big animals little.

How did Tiktaalik, one of the earliest amphibians, move?

How Many Continents Does Katy Perry’s “Roar” Video Take Place On Simultaneously?’

I love when paleontologists attempt to reconstruct paleopathologies, this time with tiger claw marks.

‘How Chemistry Can Explain the Difference Between Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey‘.

I never realized that squirrels cause so many power outages.

It was Stephen Jay Gould’s birthday this week.

Lions need to cuddle.

Don’t worry about the Triceratops v. Torosaurus debate. It’s ongoing.

Of Glacier National Park’s original 150 glaciers, only 25 remain.

Who knew that blowing out a candle could be so beautiful?

Mosasaurs were fast and fearsome.

An interactive map of what the world would look like if all the world’s ice melted.

Who invented clothes?

Some scientists are spies and some spies love frogs.

How to prevent birds from running in to your windows.

To paleontologists, the most important dinosaurs aren’t the most famous.

How much energy does it take to vaporize a human?

Why the Hawaiian molasses spill is worse than an oil spill.

Sorry Sir David Attenborough, but humans are still evolving.

Who knew that some insects have gears on their legs?

The mouth of a leatherback sea turtle is a scary, scary thing.

Some female squid paint themselves with glittering testes for defense.

The amazing fossil record of turtles.

Yet another reason why Jurassic Park would never actually work.

This Week in Science: August 17-23 2013

Some female bugs pretend to be males of a different species to avoid ‘stabbing sex’.

A whale carcass can feed polar bears for a long time.

Speaking of whales, here’s how scientists perform a whale autopsy.

Sometimes sharks ate dinosaurs.

What made early mammals special?

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the meaning of life.

‘If Mary Anning had been the only woman to wander the coast with geological intent, there would be no mystery‘.

You can see the California wildfires from space.

‘Multitaskers Make the Best Lovers, Say Tree Frogs‘.

How earthquake waves move and how we measure them.

This poor aphid.

This might be the coolest night-light that I’ve ever seen.

19th century paleontology has its pros and cons.

Male big horn sheep are either sexy or long-lived.

The importance of science outreach.

Climate change might be helping the redwoods.

How many eggs did dinosaurs lay?

Gender is complicated.

’16 Things BuzzFeed Doesn’t Know About the Ocean‘.

This Week in Science: August 10-16 2013

The Smithsonian aims to collect genetic material from all species.

This is how to become a fossil.

Consider supporting this mobile museum!

Whale deadfalls are ecological hotspots.

How the extinction of megafauna impacted the Amazon.

How can you measure height on Mars without sea-level?

During the Cold War, we tried to put a copper ring around the Earth.

‘In North American Katydids, Green isn’t the Dominant Colour, Pink is‘.

Fears of ‘Testicle-Eating’ Fish Overblown

Urban beekeeping is probably not a good idea.

The olinguito, a carnivore discovered this week, is adorable.

Some lipsticks might contain heavy metals.

A decapitated copperhead rattlesnake attacks its own body.

Video of Perseid meteor exploding.

This Week in Science: August 3-9 2013

The race to find ancient DNA was typically bad for fossils.

We probably will never clone non-avian dinosaurs.

Some awesome geeky videos.

Why does your voice sound funny on a recording?

How did dinosaurs have sex?

“The Top Ten Weirdest Dinosaur Extinction Ideas”.

What happens when a mosquito bites you is more terrifying than I thought.

Five amazing recent medical breakthroughs.

Rabbits might have white tails to help them escape.

Surprise! Pregnancy varies from person to person.

All 8 species of pangolin are endangered.

Was Joseph Leidy the loser (and winner) of the Bone Wars?

I need to check out the Moss Garden and Lemur Collection at Duke!

The British keep finding bodies under parking lots!

Paleontologists may have found fossil ambergris.

Why museum collections are important.

The baculum is a fascinating bit of anatomy.

New flying mammal found in a bushmeat market.

In honor of ‘Cooler than Shark Week’, Christie Wilcox wrote many posts about real shark research: An open letter to the Discovery Channel, sharks are in trouble, ‘Shark Cartilage Won’t Cure Cancer‘, a link roundup, bull sharks aren’t so scary, and real marine biologists are really cool.

David Shiffman, a marine biologist, talks about Shark Week.

C. megalodon was amazing, but it is extinct.

Is Shark Week bad for conservation?