Monday, April 12, 2010

Catablogue: Animal Review

Animal Review

The "About" page at this site says simply, "This site reviews animal species objectively." The brevity and intentional inaccuracy of that description are clues that those who write this blog are out for humor, but so is the silliness of the mission itself: to review animal species as one might a movie or a novel or a theatre production. It's ridiculously awesome.

In each blog entry, the bloggers choose a species and write about its merits and drawbacks, finally coming up with an arbitrary grade to summarize their "review." One species might be extremely dangerous and get an A from them just because they don't want to get on that species' bad side; another species might have evolved certain characteristics that the bloggers don't think are that impressive and thus get an F from them essentially for being boring. Sometimes "cute" gets a species bonus points, but looks alone don't cut it in most cases.

One of the joys of reading the blog is discerning the fact from the fiction; both are interspersed throughout each entry. The scientific name of each species is given, but the English translation of the Latin words is never reliable (e.g., the sidewinder rattlesnake's name Crotalus cerastes is translated as "Have you see this thing move????"). Footnotes are provided but more often direct the reader to a made-up "fact" or some humorous commentary than to a scientific citation.

Still, you will learn while laughing. Fiction may make each review fun to read, but fact is the basis--so you can laugh at the bloggers' description of how an alligator is like the old coworker who refuses to learn how to use new office technology, but at the same time you'll learn facts about the alligator's lack of significant evolution over the past however-many years, how it kills its prey, why it has upward-facing nostrils, etc.

It's fun to read, so it's easy to overlook the learning that's happening while the entertaining is going on. I laughed out loud throughout the entry on the sea cucumber, but now I shall forever remember its unique (and incredibly ridiculous) defense mechanism. I recommend this site to any child who is learning in school about animals, or to any adult who has an interest in animals, or to any human who can read, who has a sense of humor, and who likes to get smarter.

(What is a catablogue?)

1 comment:

  1. That is a delightful blog -- a very good way to waste a bit of time :-)

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