July 14, 2007
New Species Discovered; Naming To Be Decided
The July 5th Honolulu Star Bulletin reported the discovery of an unidentified sea creature that looks like a cross between a squid and an octopus near Keahole Point on Hawaii's Big Island. First to name the strange cephalopod was Jan War, operations manager at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, where the creature was found trapped in a filter. The name War chose, "octosquid," is a logical portmanteau, but a linguistic mishmash.
"Octopus" is a Greek name, meaning "eight-foot."
"Squid," on the other hand, is a word of uncertain origin, possibly derived from "squirt." The modern Greek for "squid" is kalamari, which actually means "inkwell" and comes from the ancient Greek for "reed" (which is what the Greeks used for pens). I have to say that "octomari" has a nicer ring than "octosquid," even though it doesn't really mean anything in Greek.
Of course, this is just the popular name we're talking about. The scientific name is something biologists have to determine once they figure out what known species the "octosquid" is most closely related to. There are rules for the creation of new species names from Greek and Latin roots.
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