History Main / TaxonomicTermConfusion

8th Aug '16 5:49:58 PM Morgenthaler
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[[folder: Film ]]
* In ''Film/TheHorrorOfPartyBeach'', a doctor explains that the monster is actually a dead human whose organs were invaded by aquatic plants before they had the chance to decompose, and calls the result "a giant protozoa." Protozoa are single-celled lifeforms, being neither plants nor animals. "Protozoan" is the word for describing one in the singular.
* ''Film/TheFaculty'' contains this line: "We discovered a new phylum in biology class today; maybe even a new species." This makes no sense, because something in a new phylum would have to be in a new species. Probably the actor accidentally switched "species" and "phylum" around from the scripted line, and nobody caught the mistake.
* In ''Franchise/JurassicPark'', Alan Grant says that humans and dinosaurs are "two species separated by 65 million years." Granted, that line probably sounded great in the trailers, but you'd think a paleontologist would know better than to call dinosaurs a species.

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[[folder: Film ]]
* In ''Film/TheHorrorOfPartyBeach'', a doctor explains that the monster is actually a dead human whose organs were invaded by aquatic plants before they had the chance to decompose, and calls the result "a giant protozoa." Protozoa are single-celled lifeforms, being neither plants nor animals. "Protozoan" is the word for describing one in the singular.
* ''Film/TheFaculty'' contains this line: "We discovered a new phylum in biology class today; maybe even a new species." This makes no sense, because something in a new phylum would have to be in a new species. Probably the actor accidentally switched "species" and "phylum" around from the scripted line, and nobody caught the mistake.
* In ''Franchise/JurassicPark'', Alan Grant says that humans and dinosaurs are "two species separated by 65 million years." Granted, that line probably sounded great in the trailers, but you'd think a paleontologist would know better than to call dinosaurs a species.
Films -- Animated ]]



* ''Film/BatmanForever'':
-->'''Dr. Chase Meridian''': Well, let's just say that I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses like a flying rodent.\\
'''Batman''': Bats aren't rodents, Dr. Meridian.
* Only three of the members of ''Film/KillBill'''s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are actually named for vipers.


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[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]
* In ''Film/TheHorrorOfPartyBeach'', a doctor explains that the monster is actually a dead human whose organs were invaded by aquatic plants before they had the chance to decompose, and calls the result "a giant protozoa." Protozoa are single-celled lifeforms, being neither plants nor animals. "Protozoan" is the word for describing one in the singular.
* ''Film/TheFaculty'' contains this line: "We discovered a new phylum in biology class today; maybe even a new species." This makes no sense, because something in a new phylum would have to be in a new species. Probably the actor accidentally switched "species" and "phylum" around from the scripted line, and nobody caught the mistake.
* In ''Franchise/JurassicPark'', Alan Grant says that humans and dinosaurs are "two species separated by 65 million years." Granted, that line probably sounded great in the trailers, but you'd think a paleontologist would know better than to call dinosaurs a species.
* ''Film/BatmanForever'':
-->'''Dr. Chase Meridian''': Well, let's just say that I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses like a flying rodent.\\
'''Batman''': Bats aren't rodents, Dr. Meridian.
* Only three of the members of ''Film/KillBill'''s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are actually named for vipers.
[[/folder]]
8th Aug '16 5:49:14 PM Morgenthaler
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** "Germ" is a colloquialism for any microscopic pathogen, not a biological category, so might include tiny parasitic animals like nematodes or early-stage flukes.
8th Aug '16 5:48:30 PM Morgenthaler
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* [[WesternAnimation/FindingNemo "Let's name the species of the open seaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!"]] The "species" mentioned in Mr. Ray's song are actually ''phyla''.

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* [[WesternAnimation/FindingNemo ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo'': "Let's name the species of the open seaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!"]] seaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!" The "species" mentioned in Mr. Ray's song are actually ''phyla''.
4th Aug '16 2:55:11 PM ScorpiusOB1
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* ''WesternAnimation/Dinosaucers'', even if it's a show about intelligent dinosaurs, includes in the cast an ichthyosaur, a plesiosaur, a dimetrodon, and a pterosaur. None of the four are actually dinosaurs.

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* ''WesternAnimation/Dinosaucers'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Dinosaucers}}'', even if it's a show about intelligent dinosaurs, includes in the cast an ichthyosaur, a plesiosaur, a dimetrodon, and a pterosaur. None of the four are actually dinosaurs.
4th Aug '16 2:54:00 PM ScorpiusOB1
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Added DiffLines:

* ''WesternAnimation/Dinosaucers'', even if it's a show about intelligent dinosaurs, includes in the cast an ichthyosaur, a plesiosaur, a dimetrodon, and a pterosaur. None of the four are actually dinosaurs.
14th Jul '16 4:18:21 PM Lymantria
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* The Childcraft book ''About Animals'' identifies arthropods as a "class" of animals, when it really is a phylum. It could be argued that ''phylum'' is too advanced a word for a book aimed at 6-year-olds, but that could also be argued of ''arthropod'', and that didn't stop the publishers. (Probably they figured that anything was better than risking spiders getting classed as "insects".) Even more JustForFun/{{egregious}} as there are more arthropods in existence than every other phylum of animals combined.
* ''The Book of College Pranks'': In relating a story about how a cow was elected Homecoming Queen because all the human entrants were disqualified, it says that the cow "was in the wrong phylum, but at least had not cheated." In fact, cows and humans are in the ''same'' phylum (Chordata) and the same class (Mammalia).

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* The Childcraft Literature/{{Childcraft}} book ''About Animals'' identifies arthropods as a "class" of animals, when it really is a phylum. It could be argued that ''phylum'' is too advanced a word for a book aimed at 6-year-olds, but that could also be argued of ''arthropod'', and that didn't stop the publishers. (Probably they figured that anything was better than risking spiders getting classed as "insects".) Even more JustForFun/{{egregious}} as there are more arthropods in existence than every other phylum of animals combined.
* ''The Book of College Pranks'': ''Literature/TheBookOfCollegePranks'': In relating a story about how a cow was elected Homecoming Queen because all the human entrants were disqualified, it says that the cow "was in the wrong phylum, but at least had not cheated." In fact, cows and humans are in the ''same'' phylum (Chordata) and the same class (Mammalia).



* The female scientist near the beginning of the series ''{{Surface}}'' described the creature she'd seen as "An entirely new phylum of mammal!" This is especially mind-boggling when we later learn that the creatures are created from the DNA of liopleurodons(a prehistoric sea reptile)... which she describes as "A type of prehistoric eel"... You know, just stop trying. If they just wanted to incorrectly refer to something as a "prehistoric eel", they could have at least used a mosasaur, which are far more eel-like in shape than pliosaurs such as Liopleurodon, which were generally shaped more like sea turtles with crocodile heads.
* Occasionally a host of a Creator/FoodNetwork show will try to emulate Alton Brown's use of scientific terminology, and wind up sounding like a KnowNothingKnowItAll. The host of ''Food Feuds'', for one, has openly referred to clams as crustaceans, apparently on the assumption that all seafood without fins is in the same taxon.

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* The female scientist near the beginning of the series ''{{Surface}}'' ''Series/{{Surface}}'' described the creature she'd seen as "An entirely new phylum of mammal!" This is especially mind-boggling when we later learn that the creatures are created from the DNA of liopleurodons(a prehistoric sea reptile)... which she describes as "A type of prehistoric eel"... You know, just stop trying. If they just wanted to incorrectly refer to something as a "prehistoric eel", they could have at least used a mosasaur, which are far more eel-like in shape than pliosaurs such as Liopleurodon, which were generally shaped more like sea turtles with crocodile heads.
* Occasionally a host of a Creator/FoodNetwork show will try to emulate Alton Brown's use of scientific terminology, and wind up sounding like a KnowNothingKnowItAll. The host of ''Food Feuds'', ''Series/FoodFeuds'', for one, has openly referred to clams as crustaceans, apparently on the assumption that all seafood without fins is in the same taxon.



* The narrator on ''Monsterquest'' seems to have confused "species" with ''individuals'', inverting the usual pattern where higher-than-species clades are mixed up. The voiceover claims that "millions of species" of fishes are found off the coast of Florida, which is [[WritersCannotDoMath a couple of orders of magnitude]] more than the actual number of fish species on the planet (~32 thousand).

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* The narrator on ''Monsterquest'' ''Series/{{Monsterquest}}'' seems to have confused "species" with ''individuals'', inverting the usual pattern where higher-than-species clades are mixed up. The voiceover claims that "millions of species" of fishes are found off the coast of Florida, which is [[WritersCannotDoMath a couple of orders of magnitude]] more than the actual number of fish species on the planet (~32 thousand).
4th Jun '16 9:56:32 AM BrendanRizzo
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* Referring to hyenas as dogs. Despite having a resemblance to canines, hyenas are actually more closely related to mongoose and felines.

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* Referring to hyenas as dogs. Despite having a resemblance to canines, hyenas are actually more closely related to mongoose mongooses and felines.



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8th Jan '16 12:59:05 PM nombretomado
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** He also repeatedly refers to shrews as "rodents" in his ''{{Spellsinger}}'' series.

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** He also repeatedly refers to shrews as "rodents" in his ''{{Spellsinger}}'' ''Literature/{{Spellsinger}}'' series.
19th Oct '15 4:06:00 AM Spinosegnosaurus77
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Compound variations on these terms such as "subspecies" and "superfamily" are in common use. Some taxonomists also make use of the term "tribe" for a rank intermediate between subfamily and genus. This is not just limited to fiction; in a strictly factual sense birds are technically reptiles, and the whole animal, plant, fungus distinction is being [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-domain_system rewritten]] of late so more often than not, it's hard to know the correct terminology because it always is changing. It doesn't help matters that the current system was invented before evolution was understood, and that the ranks are pretty arbitrary. One "genus" might be older and more diverse than another "family." Some scientists even want to [[http://www.ohio.edu/phylocode/index.html abolish taxonomic ranks]], though that's not likely to happen soon.

Another important distinction is whether a named group is monophyletic ('one tree') or not. A monophyletic group is exactly all descendants of some ancestor species. One way to think of phylogenetics and cladistics is they are the determination of which groups are monophyletic. All groups with a taxonomic rank (e.g. a genus) should be monophyletic[[note]]hence these groupings are constantly under revision as new evidence about monophyly is discovered[[/note]], but commonly used group names may not be - e.g. 'monkey' is not monophyletic unless you consider humans and other apes to also be monkeys. How to deal with this is debatable, and indeed debated in the examples on this very page. Some would argue that 'monkey' must include humans, others that 'monkeys' are not a legitimate group, others that 'monkey' is useful and legitimate, but you just need to be aware is it not monophyletic.

to:

Compound variations on these terms such as "subspecies" and "superfamily" are in common use. Some taxonomists also make use of the term "tribe" for a rank intermediate between subfamily and genus. This is not just limited to fiction; in a strictly factual sense birds are technically reptiles, and the whole animal, plant, fungus animal/plant/fungus distinction is being [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-domain_system rewritten]] of late so more often than not, it's hard to know the correct terminology because it it's always is changing. It doesn't help matters that the current system was invented before evolution was understood, and that the ranks are pretty arbitrary. One "genus" might be older and more diverse than another "family." Some scientists even want to [[http://www.ohio.edu/phylocode/index.html abolish taxonomic ranks]], though that's not likely to happen soon.

ranks]].

Another important distinction is whether a named group is monophyletic ('one tree') or not. A monophyletic group is exactly all descendants of some ancestor species. One way to think of phylogenetics and cladistics is they are the determination of which groups are monophyletic. All groups with a taxonomic rank (e.g. a genus) should be monophyletic[[note]]hence these groupings are constantly under revision as new evidence about monophyly is discovered[[/note]], but commonly used group names may not be - e.g. 'monkey' is not monophyletic unless you consider humans and other apes to also be monkeys.monkeys, as Old World monkeys are more closely related to apes than New World monkeys are. How to deal with this is debatable, and indeed debated in the examples on this very page. Some would argue that 'monkey' must include humans, others that 'monkeys' are not a legitimate group, others that 'monkey' is useful and legitimate, but you just need to be aware is it not monophyletic.
18th Oct '15 9:26:27 AM Anddrix
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* ''Comicbook/XMen'' has many examples of ArtisticLicenceBiology, but two things are worth noting: The mutants are referred to as a new species, but they can breed with non-mutants; so no, the term mutant, or at least subspecies, is far more accurate. (Though the deciding factor would be if the ''offspring'' of mutants and non-mutants breed; else lions and tigers could be the same species. Incidentally, the offspring of a mutant and a baseline human ''can'' breed.) Subspecies as a term is fairly arbitrary and can be used for a lot of things (Kermode bears, which are black bears with white fur due to one different allele, have be referred to as a bear subspecies), so it could work. [[MST3KMantra Trying to apply real-world genetics to a world where there are genes that lets you alter reality or shoot lasers from your eyes is a bit of a lost cause.]] This is partially solved in later comics where SelfDemonstrating/{{Magneto}}, and several others, refer to Mutants as Homo sapiens superior (compared to Homo sapiens sapiens). Every human, nay, every individual of any species born is almost certainly a mutant, several times over, by the actual definition of the term. A typical human may have dozens of alleles (that is, genetic variations) not present in either of its parents. These are all mutations. So using the term "mutant" isn't all that scientifically useful, either.

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* ''Comicbook/XMen'' has many examples of ArtisticLicenceBiology, but two things are worth noting: The mutants are referred to as a new species, but they can breed with non-mutants; so no, the term mutant, or at least subspecies, is far more accurate. (Though the deciding factor would be if the ''offspring'' of mutants and non-mutants breed; else lions and tigers could be the same species. Incidentally, the offspring of a mutant and a baseline human ''can'' breed.) Subspecies as a term is fairly arbitrary and can be used for a lot of things (Kermode bears, which are black bears with white fur due to one different allele, have be referred to as a bear subspecies), so it could work. [[MST3KMantra Trying to apply real-world genetics to a world where there are genes that lets you alter reality or shoot lasers from your eyes is a bit of a lost cause.]] This is partially solved in later comics where SelfDemonstrating/{{Magneto}}, ComicBook/{{Magneto}}, and several others, refer to Mutants as Homo sapiens superior (compared to Homo sapiens sapiens). Every human, nay, every individual of any species born is almost certainly a mutant, several times over, by the actual definition of the term. A typical human may have dozens of alleles (that is, genetic variations) not present in either of its parents. These are all mutations. So using the term "mutant" isn't all that scientifically useful, either.
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