June 17, 2008

Naked Apes Have a Word for Everything

In my sometimes frustrating endeavor to learn about beetles I find moments of amusement in the fact that there really are words for everything. Case in point: urogomphi.

On many beetle larvae, and some adults, the urogomphi (singular: urogomphus) are a pair of projections that stick out from the last segment of the insect's body. They're found on many other insects, too. Crickets, for example, always have urogomphi.

We naked apes truly have a talent for inventing noises by which we can indicate anything and everything. So much do we employ this skill that some of us (mycologists) have to spend long stretches of time figuring out what the heck others of us (entomologists) are talking about when we flex our vocal chords, purse our lips and push air out of our lungs. It is for this reason that we have an industry dedicated to making expensive books indicated by their own noise, "dictionary." I recently purchased one of these, A Dictionary of Entomology, which was compiled by two sparsely-furred hominids indicated by the sounds "Gordh" and "Headrick." It's about the size of a phone book printed on behalf of a medium-sized city and filled with sounds rarely uttered outside of laboratories, museums and certain tribal gatherings that are, in turn, indicated by noises like "symposium" and "conference."

Scientific jargon: a fancy phrase to indicate the utterances of ape-clans that aren't understood by the other ape-clans without the payment of fees.

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