Unusual Animals

Unusual Animals
Over the years, a number of correspondents have written to me, asking for the names of words for weird animals beginning with certain letters of the alphabet, especially those beginning with x, q, and z. Here, finally, is a glossary of 320 unusual words describing different animals, both common and obscure. The list itself will never be complete, and is simply a selection of different species and types of animal. It is not meant to be a representative sample of the world's faunal biodiversity - it is heavily skewed towards mammals, for instance - and specifically excludes multi-word common names (e.g. 'wood warbler') and purely scientific names (e.g. 'Pan troglodytes'). The words themselves are fascinating, and reflect an extraordinary diversity of languages of origin, demonstrating the true globalization of English over the past two centuries of exploration and imperialism. They also tell a real story of tragedy; like some of these species themselves, the languages that gave us many of these words have gone extinct, leaving nothing but these names for majestic beasts, fowl, fish, and insects.

Phrontistery dictionary. 2013.

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