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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of September 12, 1997

Fun facts about.venery the creation of nouns for groups of animals.

Transcript

KNOY: From aardvark to zebra, scientists have to have a name for every animal, and they manage to get a little creative now and then. Some of the more inventive examples come from their attempt at venery: the collection of creative nouns for groups of animals. Everyone's heard of a pack of wolves and a swarm of bees. But how about a steam of minnows, or a charm of goldfinches? Some of those names make sense, or at least they sound like they do. A skulk of foxes, a tittering of magpies, a crash of rhinoceroses. Others are downright poetic. A descent of woodpeckers, a convocation of eagles, an exultation of larks! There are intriguing names like a shrewdness of apes, a cete of badgers, or a nide of pheasants. And then there are names that change depending on exactly where the group is. For example, geese on land are a flock. In flight they're a skein, and in the water a plump. Some names even sound like product endorsements. Careful you don't swim into a smuck of jellyfish. And finally, there are those names which seem to elude all explanation. Consider a knab of toads, a troubling of goldfish, and perhaps oddest of all, a pladge of wasps. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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