That Would Be Balaenoptera musculus


In response to WC’s earlier post on Humpback Whales, a reader asked, “What’s the biggest whale you’ve photographed.?” The would be Balaenoptera musculus, the Blue Whale, the biggest animal known to have lived on our planet.  In the North Atlantic and North Pacific, blue whales can grow up to about 90 feet and weigh over…

Muskrat Love


WC isn’t talking about Willis Alan Ramsey’s odious song, although WC will really have to do a blog post about Ramsey some day, and his (in)famous second album. “Muskrat Love,” originally “Muskrat Candlelight,” was covered by a lot of folks but made a hit by The Captain and Tensile back in 1976. Ars non disputanden…

Parsing Randall Munroe


WC has praised Randall Munroe‘s excellent XKCD web comic before. But just for giggles, let’s parse a random cartoon and see why WC has such a high opinion of Munroe’s work. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not his artwork.) Here’s his 2650th cartoon, which went up a couple of weeks ago. If you mouse over the original…

Megaptera novaeangliae


“Megaptera” is Latin for “big-winged” and “novaeangliae” means “New England.” The name is nearly nonsensical. Whales don’t have “wings,” although these do have the largest pectoral fins of all cetaceans, and while they may or may not have first been seen in New England, in fact the species’ fourteen diverse population segments (“DPS”) are scattered around…

An Appreciation of Killdeer


Because they are so common, WC thinks that Killdeer are under-appreciated. A handsome member of the plover genus Charadius, the Latin root that gives us “charade,” they are an adaptable, ubiquitous, noisy and even entertaining bird species. The species name is vociferus, another Latin root meaning “clamorous or noisy.” Sometimes around the clock. The “charade”…