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Dr M’s Favourite YouTube Videos 1: Type Specimen

I love this video because it is itself a “type specimen” of what a science video should be.  It is precise, clever and funny all at the same time.  The text is stunningly accurate and explains EXACTLY what taxonomy is and what a taxonomist does (...people whose working life consists of giving Greek and Latin names to every being that exists – just in case you thought it was only Latin names (a common mistake!)).  And the song is delivered by John Hinton with enviable ease and the filming sharp and highly amusing  – the whole is pure genius!

I posted the lyrics below, for you pleasure!

I am working on my own composition on Poaceae, a family of grasses green and wonderful! but I have a long way to go to live up to “A Type Specimen!”

TYPE SPECIMEN (by John Hinton)

at the museum there’s a room full of row upon row
of millions of specimens that aren’t on show
every one of them’s a beetle only very special people
have the key to open up the draws and say “hello”

now one draw, in cabinet 334,
has a lot of beetles who aren’t beetling any more
they’ve all got a pin that’s sticking straight through their backs
well technically its actually through their mesothorax

but one of them is special in a way that you might miss
it’s got a little label next to it that looks like this
and why’s that label special? well i should know you see
that beetle with that label is ME!

it means that i‘m a type yes a type you’d better believe the hype
i’m a T to the Y to the P to the E that’s my idiosyncracy
a ty-pe a ty-pe it fills me everyday with glee
that my entire species is defined by ME!

Taxonomists, that people whose working life consists,
of giving Greek and Latin names to every being that exists,
need a way of being abso-blooming-lutely sure
that the thing they’re naming now has never been named before!

and so one lucky individual, whose countenance is prized
is studied really carefully and then immortalised
from now until eternity he fixes his fraternity
that privilege bestowed upon me fills my heart with pride –
even though my heart has died –
although technically i don’t actually have a heart –
although let’s not get pedantic!

for i am a type yes a type you’d better believe the hype
i’m a T to the Y to the P to the E that’s my idiosyncracy
a ty-pe a ty-pe it fills me every day with glee
that my entire species is defined by ME!

so, though you may think it frightful to see how i am stuck
i tell you it’s delightful and i can’t believe my luck!
i certainly would recommend as choice of mausoleum
being pinned to a board in a drawer in a room at the natural history museum!

then you could be a type yes a type it’ll solve most any gripe
you’re a T to the Y to the P to the E a state that’s utterly carefree
A ty-pe a ty-pe you ll feel right as rain and good as new
when your entire species is defined by YOU!

 

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