Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

A Slow News Day

Date: 21 October 2015
Category: Homophones, Nature

Despite Joe Biden’s announcement today that he’s not running for president, you know it’s a slow news day when you find, not one, but two amazing tortoise stories making the headlines.

Did you hear about the 76-million-year-old extinct species of pig-snouted turtle unearthed in Utah? It had two bony nasal openings versus other turtles that had only a single external nostril. This discovery apparently fills a gap in the understanding of the evolution of turtles.

Meanwhile, Smithsonian magazine announced that on the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz near Ecuador, approximately 250 somewhat smaller turtles live a few miles from a group of about 3,000 giant ones. Researchers in the past noted these variations, but had assumed that both groups still belonged to the same species under the genus Chelonoidis. Now, genetic analysis has determined that the two groups are distinct species.

Binomial naming system consists of giving two names to an organism, i.e., their genus and species, the lowest two levels in the classification system of naming, created by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist considered the father of modern taxonomy.

Linnaeus obviously had to be a genius to be able to develop such a complex system and he was acclaimed as such: the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Tell him I know no greater man on earth.” Goethe wrote: “With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly.” Among Linneaus’ other compliments, he’s been called the “Prince of Botanists,” “The Pliny of the North,” and “The Second Adam.” Time magazine ranked him the 31st most influential person in human history and the 5th most influential scientist.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize true genius in this man’s case. He’s in a classification by himself.

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