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Zo-limericks, Katzen und Doggerell

Being observations of bio-oddities gone from bad to verse in the limerick form.

Unexpected Guests

As hostess sweet Suzi would boast,
That she served lots of sushi, the most.
But the worms in her gut--
And a few in her nut--
Feel this lady sure makes a great host.

There are indeed at least a few parasitic worms capable of leaving an uncooked meal and taking up residence in one's brain--among other places.

Giddy Whorl 

Rotifer gals shun the macho, it seems,
And act out fond feminist dreams.
With feet but no legs
They lay amictic eggs
Thus banishing guys from their schemes.


Some populations of rotifers (microscopic but multicellular animals) for many generations consist only of females who lay diploid eggs that develop unfertilized into females who lay diploid eggs that...etc.

Out of Africa

Said Bogey to Kate on the 'Queen,'
"I hate all these leeches we've seen.
I don't mind the pricking,
But feel that their sticking
Me for the drinks is obscene."

Who can forget the courage of Charlie Allnut sliding over the side of "The African Queen" into swampy, leech-infested water to drag the steam launch a little further downstream.

Reefer Madness

A colonial beast is the coral
Whose looks are deceptively floral:
They've many mouths, but
Share only one gut
And elimination is oral.

Its often a puzzle when an animal reproduces by budding (a self-cloning process) to decide if the result is many animals or still just one. Any of the parts could separate and operate independent of the others. 

Preemptive Strike

Because I might be an enemy,
The paranoid sea anemone
In a manner most speedy
Fired off its fell cnidae
In spite of having no ken of me.


Considered to be the faster animal effectors on the planet, the stinging cells (cnidae) of anemones and jelly fish are fired both offensively and defensively, triggered by touch or chemical stimuli.

An Old Crappy's Advice to his Young

Beware of the hagfish, young fry,
Its kiss is a thing to decry.
All covered in snot
And tied in a knot
'Twill suck all your innerds quite dry.

Hagfish (the source of "eel skin" for wallets and similar) are actually mostly scavengers whose jawless sucking mouths can produce one hell of a hickey. Their cousins the lampreys are more predatory, but "lamprey" didn't scan as well.

Binary Math

Amœba dear, you've a perverse mission
In multipying by division:
Your one leaves two
(Which one is you?)
And sign that reads, "Gone fission!"

If an ameba divides twice and all die but one, does the original ameba still live? If so, today's surviving amebas have each been alive have been alive longer than our entire species.

Spiral cleavage

Spiral cleavage--O fixéd fate--
Ontogeny determinate
For worms and beetles
Squid and mosquitles:
No twins, no mouth that opens late.

Spiral--or determinant--cleavage of a fertilized ovum (zygote) produces cells with fates so programmed that if you separated the cells (instead of letting them cleave together), each would develop into half of an animal. Animals with this form of cleavage produce cannot produce identical twins in the way that we can. They also get their mouth first, anus second.

Chordate Cousin

Sir Lancelet ain't much like us:
He cain't chew nor spit nor cuss,
But notochord and slitted gills,
A nervous tube (o thrill of thrills)
Link us to Am-phí-ox-us.

The lancelet --formerly assigned to the Genus Amphioxus, but now to Branchiostoma -- is thought to closely resemble an ancestor of all vertebrates

Eugenic Solution

Young Eugene had genetical blues
And would Hardy and Weinberg confuse
'Til he doubled in brass
And made head of the class
By minding his p's and his q's.

Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium is often discussed in terms of equations representing the status of gene frequencies. (e.g. p + q = 1.0) Such equations allow one to make predictions about population genetics. The so-called eugenics of past decades failed to comprehend the significance of such predictions.

Chromatophores Semaphore
Spermatophore Welcome

A quick-handed lad is the squid,
Who courts with a chromatic id.
For no sooner has she
Flashed, "Pass it to me,"
Then she gets that he already did.

Male sperm package their sperm in packets delivered by hand, use elaborate pattern displays of color (though squid appear to be color-blind and miss that aspect of the show) to court females, then use a modified arm to hand off the packets in a tentacle-is-quicker-than-the-eye manner. Females may elect to discard the packet and seek elsewhere.

Mites Mate as Moth Listens

The mites on a moth put the bite on her ear,
But only the one 'cause they want her to hear--
Not what they might do as they meet there to mate--
But who else could be near to make them all late…
As in "the-once-great-but-now-sadly-late mites that
Have shared a sad fate in the jaws of a bat."

A parasitic mite that favors the flavor of the tympanic membranes of moths leaves a scent trail from where it first latches onto a moth to the tympanum. The trail leads late-comers to the same "ear" which makes mite mating more likely and the destruction of both ears less likely, so the moth can hear predatory bats ranging in.

Reptilian Parthenogenesis

Dame Nature's played a cruel tease
Upon six lizard families
Whom She denies the gular lies
Of conspecific lizard guys
In spite of the passionate urgin's
Of unbroken long lines of virgins.

At least one species in each of six different lizard families of the American southwest consists of nothing but females. Males are unknown and unneeded.

Pachyderm Pandemonium

Elephants have got their heads on straight
When it come to the matter of meeting to mate.
They don't slip off quietly into the bushes
Scaring calves with threats to their tushes.
No putting it off 'til they're weak in the knees,
No "Wait until dark, suppose somebody sees."
No. They gather the family and friends, the whole herd
Who trumpet approval and send out the word:
"Here is a couple… they're coupling…hooray!
"Here's an occasion to cheer the whole day."

Elephant mating is not a private act. It is accompanied by a great deal of trumpeting and thundering provided by something like a cheering section of other members of the herd.

Another Rhyme for Sadistic

An intelligent view of cladistics
Involves a good grasp of statistics
.. A failure in maths
.. May produce psychopaths
Or a heavy reliance on mystics.

Contributors to this page are welcome. Though new to cladistics Judith hit right on with this one. She also sent but doesn't claim credit for:

Actually I like haiku, but:

To convey meaning
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffic

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