There’s a lot of hilarity to be found in the Linnaean species names, from Crikey steveirwini to the unfortunate Rubus cockburnianus (named in honour of the Cockburn family, of course – how can you doubt it). I figured a book digging into all this would be interesting, or at least entertaining enough to beguile an eight hour plane ride.
Not so much. The author is undoubtedly – and commendably – enthusiastic. He’s dug around in all the vagaries of zoological and botanical naming, and he’s found some gems. He also tries to explain exactly how these names are coined and accepted. Unfortunately, he’s rather longwinded about it, and it becomes a long list of funny names joined by some anecdotes. Some of them I’m glad enough to know, but I did get rather tired of the idea by chapter four, and started wondering when the light at the end of the tunnel was going to show.