Confusing animals/Taxonomy Misconceptions

This. Is . Spam. from a fake account. So easy to do on the iNat forum!

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My mother thought grebes and coots were ducks
Grebes are actually more related to flamingos than ducks!
And coots are more related to rails

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Cetaceans are fish. I also heard seals are fish from an adult once. A bug is a specific group within insects called hemiptera but many use it to mean arthropods in general. Pteranodons and mosasaurs are dinosaurs because they are extinct reptiles.

Fish is a very overloaded word but I that that in sensu strictissimo it is quite clear that it refers to Pisces in the paraphyletic sense (excl. Amphibia, Reptilia,…).

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Box turtles have a hinged part to their shell which enables them to close the shell up. It is a little like a box I guess.

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There are a couple of different groups of turtles called box turtles: Terrapene in North America and Cuora in Asia. In different families but similar in having a hinged plastron.

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I don’t know if this would count, but when my mother was a nurse, she cared for a woman who truly believed unicorns were real but had been hunted to extinction! Other than that, the most common errors I saw when I was a UTA were thinking mushrooms were a type of plant, and thinking slime molds were a type of fungus. As far as specific errors go, everyone Systematic Botany class mistook Luetkea pectinata for a saxifrage, but I’d consider that a more advanced mistake.

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Sorry, I have no examples to give, at least not off the top of my head, @elkins456, but I did want to congratulate you on a fascinating post.

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OOH I have a really specific one:
There are two birds, the buttonquail and the button quail. The button quail is in the quail family, but the buttonquail is a part of Turnicidae!

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A lot of people think that subterclass Palaeoheterodonta includes all freshwater bivalves, but that isn’t true. It’s common name is Freshwater Mussels and Brooch Clams. The brooch clams are marine and the freshwater mussels are only from Unionida, and Sphaeriidae or Corbicula.

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As other people have said, “fish” is a rather ambiguous term. By the logic of “birds are dinosaurs”, technically Cetaceans could be considered hoofed animals, and all of the above, including Cetaceans, are lobe-finned fishes.

But yes Cetaceans aren’t in Actinopterygii or Elasmobranchii or Agnatha or Holocephali or lungfishes/coelacanths hehe.

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I once overheard a volunteer at a small zoo tell some visitors looking at the Collared Peccary (Javelina) exhibit: “Many people think Javelina are pigs, but they aren’t. They’re actually rodents.”

Nature education seems like an uphill battle at times.

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I love pointing out to people that sea squirts (Tunicates and Ascidians), those innocuous looking things growing on rocks on ocean shorelines all around the world, are actually members of Phylum Chordata, which of course includes all mammals including humans. I tell everyone that sea squirts are actually more closely related to them than a flatworm is to an earthworm.
Mind you I would hesitate to say this to someone I knew was a hardcore creationist.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117646436

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the naming of these two Eurasian Noctuid moths confused me for a while. there is a bright line brown eye which is a species from the hadenini Tribe and a brown line bright eye which is a type of wainscot moth. Not sure why their names are so similar, why not name the BLB the Rosy wainscot or something similar to avoid confusion.

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It’s worth noting that “fish” are a paraphyletic group. So it’s misleading to tell students that sharks are fish, dolphins aren’t, etc., without pointing out that fish are paraphyletic.

So instead of saying, “fish are aquatic, cold-blooded, have gills, scaly, etc.”, they should say, “fish are non-tetrapod vertebrates”.

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Our neighbors refer to animals and plants by local Swahili names, which works until it gets into the smaller world of tiny insects or even microbes etc. Mostly all of them are called wadudu wadogo wadogo (small insects)
We developed an adapted approach to explaining compost or soil in our permaculture training …

greetings from Zanzibar
Yusuf

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Here in Zanzibar the name Sengi (f.k.a. Elephant Shrew) is slowly taking foot

Elephant shrews, also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name “elephant shrew” comes from a perceived resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and their superficial similarity with shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. However, phylogenetic analysis has revealed that elephant shrews are not properly classified with true shrews, but are in fact more closely related to elephants than to shrews.[4] In 1997, the biologist Jonathan Kingdon proposed that they instead be called “sengis” (singular sengi),[5] a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa, and in 1998, they were classified into the new clade Afrotheria.
–Wikipedia

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Yes, please. All the discussion of deep taxonomy can be fun, but it can also be pedantic. The technicality of “whales actually are fish because tetrapods are a clade within the fishes” is not really grade-level appropriate. At the level the original post referred to, it would only muddy the waters.

The turtle/tortoise/terrapin discussion was interesting because I once knew someone who used the term “sea tortoise.” So even the distinction of “tortoises are the ones that live on land” is not universally recognized.

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Well, might be a translation thing? We do not have a distinction in German between tortoises and turtles… they are just all Schildkröten… Landschildkröten, living on land (tortoises) and Meeresschildkröten, living in the ocean (turtles). Same goes for spanish… it’s tortuga and tortuga marina

I did not help that it is called “teenage mutant ninja turtles” for what are clearly tortoises to get this difference in english :wink:

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I was going through US TSA with a whole bunch of honey I purchased in Argentina, I hadn’t even thought about it until they were inspecting my bag for animal products entering the country and found the honey, as soon as he pulled it out it clicked that I was supposed to declare that! I was super bummed thinking my honey was about to be confiscated but the TSA employee happily told me “Oh no, insects aren’t animals, you’re good to go!” I am an entomologist but I did not even stop to have that conversation, I was just happy I got to keep my honey!

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