Creative Challenge #30: Name This Creature


(No, you don’t have to name the bird in that picture. It’s a purple-throated carib.)

Our last creative challenge was more than two months ago, so it’s time for another. This one will be difficult.

Few things in nature are as lovely as a hummingbird dining on nectar. The picture above this post is from Wikipedia, which they say is freely available for use. Hummingbirds are known as Nectarivores. In contrast, there is the Dung beetle, your Curmudgeon’s favorite insect. They not only devour, they also live in the waste of larger animals, and we certainly don’t recommend their style of living. Nevertheless, they make the world a better place. Also, Dung Beetles Navigate by the Stars.

Then there are creationists, the subject of today’s challenge. In the context of science, they are weakly analogous to dung beetles, in that they seek out and thrive on rejected, disproved, and worthless ideas. A biological analogy might describe them as creatures who live off the waste of dung beetles. That is, they eagerly seek and devour that which has been found indigestible by two previous levels of organisms.

But our biological analogy fails because creationists are nowhere near as noble as dung beetles in their overall effect. Creationists don’t make the world better by consuming and thus reducing the amount of waste. Instead, they make things worse by not only preserving intellectual waste — but also by adding to it.

So now we get to the challenge. The dung beetle’s name is sufficiently descriptive, and the hummingbird is a nectarivore. We’re looking for a biological description of creationists which indicates their proper place in the intellectual food chain. The form of today’s challenge is that you must tell us, with reasonable brevity:

What is the best biological word or expression that describes the intellectual role of creationists?

You know the rules: You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully. Challenging indeed!

There may not be a winner of this contest, but if there is, your Curmudgeon will decide, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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57 responses to “Creative Challenge #30: Name This Creature

  1. Homo iaculator stercora

  2. How about epistemophobic, fear of knowledge?

  3. For those who may be mystified by the term Megalonyx suggested, “iaculator stercora” is roughly translated as poop flinger.

  4. michaelfugate

    vacumen – a combination of vacuous and acumen – defined as the inability to use good judgement.

  5. Pseudocraniumitis. There was nothing wrong with your brain at birth, you just let it go…

    This parasitic marvel enslaves cockroaches by stinging their brains in ridiculously precise spots and injecting mind-controlling venom. The wasp then leads its zombified roach to a chamber, where it lays a single egg on its perfectly relaxed host and seals it inside with pebbles. Here the larva bores into the cockroach and feeds off its organs before killing it and emerging from its corpse into the light of day.

    “Stinging a strong prey that’s often six times (or more) larger than yourself is not an easy task,” neurobiologist Ram Gal of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University said in an email interview.

    “Especially so when the venom must reach the brain of the prey, requiring delicate steering of the stinger inside the head of the cockroach. Hence, upon grabbing the cockroach by the pronotum [the armor], the wasp first injects venom inside the prey’s thorax, namely between the first (‘pro-thoracic’) pair of legs.”

    The roach’s front legs are now paralyzed, the first stage of behavioral modification, allowing the wasp to pull its stinger out and jam it into the neck unimpeded. This sting is far more precise, lasting close to a minute compared to a few fleeting seconds of the first. “During this time,” said Gal, “the wasp can uninterruptedly steer its stinger through the different tissues within the cockroach’s head capsule until it finds — using specialized sensory organs on the tip of its stinger — the cockroach’s brain.”

    That’s right. The wasp feels its way through the brain, depositing venom in two different spots, the supra-esophageal ganglion and sub-esophageal ganglion. Then she backs off, and at this point the cockroach does something rather unexpected for a bug that’s endured forcible brain surgery: It grooms itself obsessively for half an hour, stuck right at the spot of the attack, as if preparing for a date that sadly never comes. (I’m not trying to make this depressing, it’s just kinda happening.)

    While the cockroach is preening, the wasp flies off in search of a burrow, returning as this venom-induced behavior is beginning to fade. And it’s at this time that the third stage of behavioral modification kicks in — full-blown zombification. “It will stay in this state for days, and will not self-initiate locomotion or try to escape,” said Gal.
    Richard Dawkins provides several examples of how cunning parasites can be, and how easy it is to be fooled. The sophistication of some ant species makes the cuckoo look like a novice. He describes a parasitic ant which invades a neighbouring colony, seeks out its queen, climbs on top of it and methodically gnaws off its head. Having usurped the position at the top of this social hierarchy, the alien queen produces eggs which are tended by the invaded colonies’ workers, and new queens then go off to invade other colonies.
    Even this strategy has been improved upon by another ant species. To quote The Selfish Gene, p. 252 (Dawkins is here referring to the founder of sociobiology, Edward Wilson):

    ‘But sawing off heads is a bit of a chore. Parasites are not accustomed to exerting themselves if they can coerce a stand-in. My favourite character in Wilson’s The Insect Societies is Monomorium santschii. This species, over evolutionary time, has lost its worker caste altogether. The host workers do everything for their parasites, even the most terrible task of all. At the behest of the invading parasite queen, they actually perform the deed of murdering their own mother. The usurper doesn’t need to use her jaws. She uses mind-control. How she does it is a mystery; she probably employs a chemical, for ant nervous systems are generally highly attuned to them. If her weapon is indeed chemical, then it is as insidious a drug as any known to science. For think what it accomplishes. It floods the brain of the worker ant, grabs the reins of her muscles, woos her from deeply ingrained duties and turns her against her own mother. For ants, matricide is an act of special genetic madness and formidable indeed must be the drug that drives them to it. In the world of the extended phenotype, ask not how an animal’s behaviour benefits its genes; ask instead whose genes it is benefiting.’

  7. Scientificus obtuseness

  8. Junk DNA

  9. Necrophagan: Because they thrive on dead ideas, some of which really stink, and like buzzards, vultures, crows, and other creatures of this ilk, make a gawd-awful racket when they gather.

  10. Homo microcephalus.

  11. Do I get points for putting my entry on the wrong post? Negative points are points, too.

  12. Charles Deetz ;)

    Any honor made here to recall the ultimate creationist animal, the Gerbil?

  13. Lorne Dmitruk

    Slime mold.

  14. Although more a condition involving clots than an organism I propose a deliberately misspelt Phlebitus.

  15. Creationists may be characterised as Intellectual Bottom Feeders; they not only feed themselves on absolutely exhausted, superannuated dregs, they aggressively promote such a diet for others.

    Although much of their behaviour resembles parasitism, their proselytising zeal places them in a unique catagory of ecological relationships: fundamentalism, e.g. feeding exclusively on the outputs from their own fundaments.

  16. Actually, I think some clarification is needed about this Curmudgeonly competition as, on reflection, I have a few quibbles.

    First off, the phrase “intellectual role of creationists” is flat-out oxymoronic: It’s like asking what part did the Three Stooges play in the Apollo Lunar Missions.

    Secondly, the “Name this Creature” title for the competition is a tad misleading, for Creationists are not a single species but at least a whole Genus of such (if not indeed a Family), viz.:

    The Iconic Three-Note Wells Sloth: an idle, shambling creature too lazy to respond to repeated refutations of the same old three fallacies it endless regurgitates.

    The Gaugermeleon: a venomous reptile noted for its cunning powers of disguise when ‘blending in’ to a green-screen background.

    The Abhaminable Showman, an antipodean creature which was unfortunately transplanted to the Appalachians, where it is now an invasive species even more destructive than kudzu. Its rampant and ruthless money-grabbing has earned it the native name of the “Getty.”

    &c &c

  17. Although I don’t expect to win, I’m hoping for Honorable Mention. Since their probably won’t be a challenge to come up with a biological name for Darwinists, I submit:


    Based on one of my favorite Behe quotes: “All sciences begin with speculation; only Darwinism routinely ends with it.”

  18. Ceteris Paribus

    There are actually many varied expressions of the intellectual roles of creationists. Researchers have demonstrated that despite the wide range of observable dysfunctional behaviors found among the creationists, all of them appear to have arisen by natural selection, as clades from an ancient common ancestor.

    A particularly commonly seen trope is that of the “cys-idyllic-paranoic creationists”, who believe that the entire modern world is “out to get them”, while simultaneously, but paradoxically, holding the view that this alleged persecution provides a personal state of bliss which is the best of all possible worlds. (Short of some mystical future event which the creationist commonly refer to as ‘the end of times”.)

  19. The redoubtable KevinC offers up just one (no doubt from thousands) of his “favorite Behe quotes”, to wit:

    “All sciences begin with speculation; only Darwinism routinely ends with it.”

    Yep, all them empirical data points ain’t nothin’ more than ‘speculation’!

    Much better to stick with either full-tilt Creationism, which begins and ends with religious dogma, or its bastard offspring Intelligent Design, which begins and ends with (drum-roll) the mighty powers of Intuition

  20. retardo cognitio
    Yes it is (according to google translate) legitimate Latin for “slow knowledge”

  21. @megalonyx

    Creationists are not a single species but at least a whole Genus of such (if not indeed a Family)

    No, no: you have this wrong. They’re a “kind.”

  22. Megalonyx says: “Actually, I think some clarification is needed about this Curmudgeonly competition”

    Agreed. First, although it’s a nice scholarly touch, Latin names aren’t needed here. For example, the dung beetle has a Latin name, of course, but “dung beetle” is sufficient for our purposes. Second — and this is the real challenge — I’d like the name to suggest that the creature not only consumes intellectual sewage, but then it also seems to violate natural law by generating more sewage than it consumes.

  23. Genus: impenetrabilis cerebri
    Subgenus: linea ignis

  24. Oh sorry S.C., too much Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote as a kid I guess…

  25. @Megalonyx
    I beg to differ from your characterization of creationism. IMHO, it begins with an emotion it is yucky to be related to monkeys and ends with religion may the Bible save me from yucky thoughts.

  26. @Mega offends the noble Phylophaga:

    “The Iconic Three-Note Wells Sloth”

    Nothing could be more wrong. Sloths are not lazy; they are thoughtful and energy efficient. Creationists are neither. For instance by simply existing the sloth refutes YEC – he/she walks 150 m an hour and can’t swim, so he/she never could reach the Ark in time, let alone return.

    The correct name for what Ol’ Hambo and co produce is Creamerda.

  27. Because creationists produce more waste than they consume, why couldn’t they be harnessed to provide a power source for our cities, or even for star ships?

  28. I’ve always just gone with Homo dubium coprolalia (with apologies to any Tourette’s sufferers).

  29. michaelfugate

    They claim to be encrypting knowledge to protect it, but really they are encrypting it and destroying the code, thus rendering it irretrievable.

  30. Perhaps “speculation” is a bit too generous a description for my Darwinist friends here. When the rise of photosynthesis is attributed to luck, well maybe speculation is too intellectually challenging for many here. Although the possession of such prodigious blind faith in luck makes me envious.

  31. “Speculation,” says the guy whose intuition tells him only certain things were designed. Which things? Certain things.

  32. Whose, not who’s. My intuition tells me only certain mistakes are corrected. Checking my design filter to see if I’m lucky.

  33. And, as long as we’re talking about design, what does the word “design” contribute to the understanding of life?
    What is the difference between things which are designed and those which are not designed. Do we have an example of something which is not designed? How do we know that it is not designed?
    If we are told that the sculptures on Mount Rushmore are designed. And that the flora and flora on the mount are also designed. Then telling us that the sculptures are designed does not exclude the possibility that they just grew there.

  34. Holding The Line In Florida

    Even a cursory look on the internet will show how much “luck” is involved with the origin of photosynthesis.
    Guess the Grand Old Designer liked to start the whole process really, really, really, really small. She/He/It then kicks back, waits and then intervenes when his perfect design needs tinkering with! Wait, this information comes from an obviously Darwinist website! Has the word “Scientific” in it. Obviously can’t be trusted. Requires “prodigious blind faith” to accept the “speculation” in it. Hey! Thanks Kevin C for giving me inspiration for my entry. “Homo Prodigious Blindeth Faithus”!

  35. “3.4 billion years ago — First photosynthetic bacteria”
    That’s you’re scientific evidence that photosynthesis was a happy accident? Just what line are you holding in Florida? The grocery line?

  36. Many of us would love to hear ID’s account of the emergence of photosynthesis. And remember, no speculation!

    Is it all designed, or just certain features?

  37. Word has it that KevinC is a cabin boy aboard Ham’s Ark.

  38. @retiredsciguy. That was good! Cabin boy on the Ark of Fools!

  39. michaelfugate

    It is as simple as developing a means of distinguishing ID from RM + NS. ID has yet to do this. All ID proponents have done is come up with a couple of anecdotes that have been easily dismissed. Talk about speculation.

  40. What might those anecdotes be michael?

  41. michaelfugate

    And another thing, ID cannot treat the issue as an “either or”. Evidence against evolution is not evidence for ID. ID needs positive evidence. Given that humans can design DNA sequences, create them, and insert them into genomes, evolution and ID can both occur. Over to ID for a testable hypothesis…

  42. See, ID doesn’t even have anecdotes. Just some intuition, wrapped in a hunch, dipped in a gut feeling, with a hard inkling shell.

  43. Don’t be cruel, Mark Germano. ID has irreducible compostery.

  44. I’m not the one who said ID had anecdotes. That would be michaelfugate. So which is it?

  45. @realthog
    and all Darwinists have is luck and imbecilic snark.

  46. Goodbye, KevinC

    I’m afraid this is something you’re going to have to work out for yourself.

    Good luck!

  47. michaelfugate

    The problem Kevin is that theists want to argue from design to God, but in reality can only argue from God to design. It is only because you believe in God that you imagine design. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are good sources to read about this topic. The Enlightenment and our good buddy Davie Hume put ID to rest over 200 years ago – ID is not new, not modern, not based on evidence nor even logic or reason – it’s just wishful thinking. Time to grow up and put away childish things.

  48. @michaelfugate
    I believe in design because I believe in God; not in a God because I see design.
    John Henry Newman (later Roman Catholic Cardinal), letter to Mr. Brownlow, April 13, 1870

  49. Just luck and snark? Evolution has strengths, too. I know that from reading Klinghoffer, Gauger, Dembski, and Luskin, who tell us that students should be taught both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory. Interestingly, they never mention what those strengths are.

    Do they let you know what the strengths are, or is it just their intuition that tells them evolution has them?

    To answer your question: Somebody dismissively said “all you have is anecdotes,” you said “which anecdotes,” oblivious to the fact that what he meant was “ID has no evidence,” so I said “see, ID doesn’t even have anecdotes.” What I didn’t do is emphasize the word even, like this:


    What I meant is not only does I’D not have evidence, but it doesn’t even have anecdotes.

    Any updates on the ID explanation for photosynthesis besides special creation?

  50. Sorry Mark, I didn’t bring up photosynthesis. jimroberts made the ludicrous claim that life luckily evolved photosynthesis to which michaelfugate saw no problem with the luck hypothesis. I just had the good sense to pursue such silliness. None of the Curmudgeonites disagreed or challenged jimroberts so I can only conclude that everyone concurred.

    It’s a common Darwinist tactic: appeal to luck, chance, RM+NS to evolve such systems and when an ID proponent disagrees, it’s the latter that has to provide the evidence while the Darwinist remains complacent with “explanations” like “3.4 billion years ago — First photosynthetic bacteria” Nope. The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim not the one who challenges.

    @realthog – Goodbye. Here’s hoping the next exoplanet discovery keeps the dream alive.

  51. michaelfugate

    Ever hear of contingency Kevin, I know it has 4 syllables and all. If you really tried to study history, whether of human, life or planets, you would realize that being in the right place at the right time is often better than being the best. The fastest runner may get tripped or have a cold and not win the race.

  52. michaelfugate

    I am convinced that evolution is sufficient to explain design in living things. Does that rule out an unknown intelligence using unknown methods for unknown reasons? No, but why resort to speculation when NS is sufficient and we can see it work?

  53. @michaelfugate
    The way that science has progressed has been to stick to a successful theory until a better one comes along. The standard example is the Ptolemaic geocentric theory which was universally accepted until Copernicus made the major step of working out an alternative.
    The situation today with evolutionary biology is that we have an extremely successful theory on the one hand, and the lack of any alternative on the other.
    What’s the point of abandoning evolution for nothing?

  54. A summary of the theory of intelligent design has been artfully provided by KevinC.

    “Evolution: Nope.”

    They offer nothing more substantial. Just “nope.”