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Scientific Names Week: Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)
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Number 0252 The olive baboon lives in a wide swath of land across the middle of Africa. It’s one of those rare mammals that not only is safe from extinction, but whose numbers seem to be growing. Let’s all celebrate that ’cause it gets depressing around here, doesn’t it? Papio in the baboon’s scientific name comes from a French word for baboon (according to...

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Scientific Names Week: Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
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Number 0251 Our current system of naming animals and plants is based on the system that Carl Linnaeus published in 1758. While others, including Aristotle, had previously attempted to organize the world’s living things into various arrangements, Linnaeus gave us an important innovation: the binomial system. Each animal (or plant or whatever) is known by a unique pair of names; no other creature has...

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Scientific Names Week: Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)
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Number 0250 I love words and names for things, and I’ve enjoyed learning a little Latin and Greek as I draw these mammals. Let’s spend a few days meeting some mammals with interesting scientific names, starting with this wild-and-woolly tamarin. The cotton-top part of his common name is apt, but what about Saguinus oedipus? Saguinus means “like a squirrel monkey,” which is straightforward. The...

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Zorilla (Ictonyx striatus)
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Number 0249 The animal above looks like a skunk, but he isn’t. His name is a dimunitive form of the word zorro, Spanish for fox, but he’s not Spanish or a fox. Like his skunk doppelgangers, he’s in the polecat family, and he lives throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Besides their striking good looks, zorillas and skunks share something else: a nasty compulsion to spray foul-smelling...

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