Weirdest Post Ever (not really)

Things like National Geographic’s “Ten Weirdest New Animals of 2010” always seem like a mixed bag, to me. It’s definitely great to promote public awareness of new species, but any list is going to be at least somewhat biased (admittedly, this particular list doesn’t limit itself to the cute and the furry — between the tyrant leech king and a dart-shooting slug, it establishes that pretty firmly). Fair enough; it’s still getting awareness out there, reminding people that new species are being discovered all the time, reminding people that there are rich and not-wholly-explored ecosystems still out there, still in danger.

The tendency I noticed in this particular list, however, is one I’m ambivalent towards: relating these animals to the public through a pop culture filter. I suppose you have to present these things in a way that people can relate to, but describing the one bat as a “Yoda” bat? Or the “Simpsons” toad? People are going to call ’em like they see ’em, but it’s particularly irksome when the pop culture reference edges out any actual information. I don’t even know where you’d go to find more information about the Simpsons toad, given that there’s not any other identifying information in the article. (Again, the criticism is a little unfair when we’re talking about a list with limited space marketed toward a casual audience [in this case] in a periodical that’s promoting research in other ways, too, but…) </rant>

(originally via BB)