When I say the word “taxonomist”, what do you think of (if anything)? Probably how many clicks it will take to get back to the celebrity candid photo site.
Many people think of an old codger in a frayed cardigan sweater hunched over a dusty microscope silently tracing the fine structure of a fly’s proboscis. Or a shrimp’s legs. No wait, that’s a little too close to home.
I have known such people, and no names will be mentioned. Alas, taxonomy has always been the poor Cinderella sister of the more glamorous branches of field biology. Last to get picked for the softball team, eating ice cream alone in front of the TV on prom night. Not that I would know such things from experience, but I have this friend . . . But no more! Charismatic people like E.O. Wilson gave taxonomy a big boost by lending their formidable auras and sublime prose to the painstaking description of obscure creatures, inventing terms like “Biodiversity” and so forth. The truth is that taxonomy is (or can be) an exciting and vibrant field that holds the magic key to biodiversity science.
Ok, I’m being melodramatic. But I’m not the only one. Arizona State University wants to rebrand taxonomy (the cyber version) as “species exploration“. As a part-time taxonomist, I got a kick out of this (hat tip to Kevin Z at The other 95% and the Annotated Budak):
Swat a disease-carrying mosquito and thank a taxonomist!