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A Gorilla By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

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Other examples of the everyday usage of scientific names are not so obvious, but are crucial if you ever want to win at Scrabble. Think of the most common domesticated mammals: dogs ( Canis familiarus ), cats ( Felis domesticus ), cows ( Bos bos ), and horses ( Equus caballus ). Their names are the roots for many English usages:

When you go to the dogs, you can bite off a lot with your canine teeth. Canis major, the constellation of the Big Dog, is where you’ll find the dog star, Sirius. If you ever want to say someone’s catty without them knowing, call them feline. The vacant stare of cows chewing their cud leads to the mild insult "bovine."

Equestrians know all about the equine roots of horse. But they may not know they would once have competed in a hippodrome – hippo being the Greek name for horse (and " Hippopotamus " means river horse). The species name, caballus , is the root of the words caballeros, cavalier, and cavalry.

The rose Shakespeare referred to was the briar rose ( Rosa canina ). You don’t find briar rose growing naturally in Whistler, but what the Bard says is true: our native roses do smell as sweet.

Upcoming Events :

Thursday, Nov. 14th — Chris Czajkowski, Author of "Life of a Wilderness Dweller" and "Log Building for the Single Woman," Myrtle Philip School, 8 p.m.

Back by popular demand! Chris is a very entertaining speaker who single-handedly built a cabin in the Chilcotin wilderness, 30 kilometres from the nearest road. She’s written four books, contributed to Harrowsmith, and was a regular correspondent with Peter Gzowski’s Morningside on CBC Radio. Come early to see her nature-themed artwork and books for sale. Members $3; non-members $5; children free.

Thursday, Nov. 28th, 6:15 to 7 p.m., MY Place — Whistler Naturalists Annual General Meeting . The Whistler Naturalists encourage anyone interested in getting more involved to join us for our third AGM. New board members welcome. For details, contact Bob Brett (604-932-8900; snowline@direct.ca).