Updated: Nov 17
There are millions of animal species on Earth, and humans have taken on the task of naming every single one they find. I imagine it started off as a very serious endeavor, but after a while we just started getting silly. Scientists are a bunch of nerds, but they can still be funny too. You may find that these names are more a reflection of humans than the animals. So who are some animals with silly names? Let’s get into it!
There are many beetles in the genus Agra. There are 500 documented with over 1000 estimated left to be identified. Scientists have had a bit of fun with naming these insects. Within this genus are species named Agra cadabra, like abra cadabra, Agra schwarzeneggeri named after the iconic bodybuilder, actor, and governor of california, and Agra vation, named because of its difficulty to find and research. Agra beetles tend to be nocturnal and can be predators for other arthropods, but they have also been recorded drinking sap and eating pollen. They have skinny heads and thoraxes (middle section) and then a relatively large abdomen. They also have secretions that make them taste gross to their predators like bats.
The Boops Boops fish didn’t get its name from what you’re probably thinking about right now. Their name was inspired by the Greek word boōps which means cow eye. So their name is actually a description of their large bulging eyes and not because they like to boop things like many animal lovers do. Boops Boops fish are native to the eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and the black sea, and they can be found at depths of up to 300 ft (100m). Boops boops grow to about 8in (20cm) long, and they feed on seaweed, crustaceans, and plankton. They are commercially fished and eaten, but since Boops Boops are prone to having lots of parasites including worms and crustaceans, they are typically used as bait fish. If you feel like I said Boops Boops too many times in this paragraph it's because it's just so much fun!
The booby bird is from the genus of seabirds called Sula. Within this genus are six species including the Blue Footed Booby who can be found from Northern Mexico to Southern Peru. The name Booby comes from the Spanish word “bobo” which means stupid or foolish. This is because the Spanish mariners who came to the area thought they were stupid because of their tameness around humans, making them easy to catch and eat. The blue pigments in their feet come from the food that they eat, making a bright blue color and indicator of health in the species.
Spiders are scary to many people, but if you name a species the sparklemuffin spiders, they suddenly seem a lot more friendly. These spiders are a relatively new discovery, and although their scientific name is Maratus jactatus, their common name sparklemuffin comes from the pet name Ph.D. student Maddie Girard gave them when she was working with them at University of California, Berkeley. Sparklemuffin spiders are in a group called Peacock Spiders, who have an array of bright and intricate color patterns. Sparklemuffins specifically have a bluish teal abdomen with orangy red stripes. These colors along with a leg-waving dance help the males attract females. Peacock spiders are a type of jumping spider who don’t spin webs so they use their jumping to catch prey and also avoid predators.
With millions of animals on Earth, and humans tasked with naming them all, we’re bound to stumble upon some silly names here and there. These names typically reflect our relationship with the animal rather than the animal themselves, and they can be interpreted differently in different cultures. Nonetheless, different species are specially adapted to their unique environments, and they still deserve our respect. There are funny insect names, fish names, bird names, and more not mentioned in this article. Which one was your favorite?
Agra vation beetles
Boops Boops Fish
Blue Footed Boobies