Friday, April 18, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou, Loggerhead?




What do the above 2 animals have in common? Bird and reptile. It's all in the name--and the head.

The bird is a Loggerhead shrike, infamous for impaling its prey (mostly insects)on the thorns of trees, which practice has earned it the nickname "butcher-bird." Nice.

The reptile is a Loggerhead turtle.

So what, exactly, is a "loggerhead" and why do these two unrelated creatures bear the name? To find out, I Googled "loggerhead," and scanned the definition.

It is the fourth entry in the definition that catches my eye:

4. Informal:

1. A blockhead; a dolt.
2. A disproportionately large head.

A disproportionately large head is what these two animals have in common that has earned them the name of "loggerhead." It's pretty easy to see that Mr. Turtle has a large head, but I seem to have misplaced my micrometer and average-bird-head sizing chart, so I'll have to rely on the description of the shrike on answer.com, which is, in part:

"Big-headed, slim-tailed; gray, black, and white, with a black mask."

I have to admit, Loggerhead turtle sounds better, if less obvious a description, than "big-headed turtle."

I learn something new every day.

Note: If you are wondering why there is a human hand on the turtle's back, it is because this turtle is one that was rescued and rehabilitated by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and is being readied for release. I'm happy to report that this turtle is now swimming in the wild again.

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