Odd wording of the day

I’m evidently too preoccupied to come up with a proper post (*grumblegrumblepapersgrumblewhine*), but that doesn’t mean I can’t share my random amusements and bemusements. This one is courtesy of a paper I (as usual) found while looking for something else:

lophotrochozoans, the third large group of protostomes next to arthropods and nematodes

Which is, to my mind, an odd characterisation of lophotrochozoans to say the least. Arthropods and nematodes are important, make no mistake. The former has more species than every other phylum of animals combined, for starters. But dividing protostome animals into arthropods, nematodes “and the rest” is a slightly weird way of doing things.

For one thing, it’s not the convention of the field – generally, we talk about two large groups of protostomes, arthropods and nematodes being in one of them. For another, “lophotrochozoans” are an awful lot of different things. Molluscs, flatworms, annelid worms, worms of many other kinds, brachiopods… they’re all there. It seems unfair to spotlight arthropods and nematodes and then lump all the rest of protostome diversity into this huge mass with an unpronounceable name. (Disclaimer: I might be somewhat biased in favour of lophotrochozoans ;))

It’s also a weird choice because the authors, at least the ones I know something about or could be bothered to look up, aren’t arthropod or nematode specialists. Quite the contrary. Maja Adamska I know for her sponge stuff, and Florian Raible has been involved with everything from zebrafish to ragworms (and yes, occasionally arthropods). Harald Hausen’s publication record is teeming with annelids.

I kind of want to know what went on in the mind of whoever came up with the final version of that abstract.

Also, damn, I now have another paper to read. This one is even vaguely work-related.

(I can’t promise I’ll be back with more substance any time soon. This PhD thing is currently doing an impressive job of destroying my mental health. Only a few months to go…)

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