Monday, May 28, 2012

The Kinorhyncha

Some of you might be familiar with the fantasy world of Middle Earth. Today's kids have J.K. Rowling, who has made a fortune on the exploits of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts. In our high school days, we had J.R.R. Tolkien, who had introduced us to Frodo, Gandalf and Gollum. They captured the rapt attention of teenagers everywhere, plus the likes of Yes and Led Zeppelin, with their journeys in pursuit of a Ring.

But for those of us who were even younger, there were nonsense poems penned by Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Carroll is known for "Alice in Wonderland", but he also created a poem called "Jabberwocky" that began thusly,

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Carroll was perhaps more famous, but Edward Lear was no slouch himself when it came to nonsense poetry. He wrote and illustrated "The Owl and the Pussycat", and they set sail on a beautiful pea-green boat. Not to be outdone in nautical adventuring were the Jumblies, who went to sea in a sieve, they did. But the ultimate in nonsense characters was the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo, whose courtship was documented by Lear...

On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo not only was the hero of Lear's courtship poem, but he even had a brief stint as a cartoon character on a Saturday morning TV show called "The Tomfoolery Show", back before the Power Rangers morphed into mighty and the Teenage Ninja Turtles had mutated (I know, when did Sponge-Bob's pants become square? Legend says it was the dawn of the 21st Century). This character was destined to become popular in a family with a cat named Bookalookle.

Anyway, in the intersection between fantasy and nonsense, we find science. Which brings us to the kinorhyncha, which must have livened up an otherwise boring junior high biology class many, many years ago. Look it up on Wikipedia and you get an explanation that it is a segmented, limbless animal, with a body consisting of a head, neck, and a trunk of eleven segments. Unlike some similar invertebrates, they do not have external cilia, but instead have a number of spines along the body, plus up to seven circles of spines around the head. Without cilia, it's hard to imagine that this animal moves at more than a crawl as it mucks about under water, but somehow it survives. Ask the question, "What's a kinorhyncha?", to the average mortal and you will get either bemused looks of confusion or an explanation that resembles the one found in Wikipedia. But ask a science nerd, and you're likely to get the following answer:
Which is exactly what it says in the textbook. Everyone knows this character should have had his own TV show.

1 comment:

  1. I can say that this comic strip is somewhat educational and funny. I didn't even know what's Kinorhyncha, thanks to this, now I know. Vigrx Plus