Greek feet + rare mammals

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Sat Feb 8 08:42:06 EST 2003

--- Tanaqui <tweaver at> wrote:

> Some people insist that the plural of octopus is
> octopodes,
> which means that they've pluralised the ending of
> the Greek
> word "foot" to mean multiple animals.
> Now, one octopus has multiple feet, so I don't think
> that quite works.
> One octopus is one marine "eight-foot", but perhaps
> two octopodes are
> two marine quadrupeds? Two octopuses are more
> sensibly two of the
> animals labelled "eight-foot".

The OED accepts both plurals (but not Octopi - this
reminds me of the Wayne and Schuster (Sp?) line from
their take on Julius Caesar "waiter I want a martinus"
"you mean a martini" "when I want two I'll ask for
> ***
> From language to sheer taxonomic nerdiness:
> The monotremata actually constitute a mammalian
> sub-class (the prototheria).
> There are plenty of other literal "one-holes" in    
  > (snip)   , while the platypus has 8. big help,
> on the female front, the
> echidnas have teats, while the platypuses do not).

Gee thanks, I really wanted to know that :-) (actually
I actually did find it interesting as was able to
understand it)

> oh, and Jon? get those friends in NSW to breed their
> critters in captivity,

Sorry no chance (putting them into captivity would be
quite illegal and not at all the sort of thing these
people would do)

> ***
> and coming back up from nerdiness to something you
> might see in the daily
> papers some day -
> who knows, some crazy biodiversity radical might
> some day try to release the
> beasties in alien habitats, but I can't see them
> doing well, so I'll have to
> concede the Wrongness of Scarry on geographical
> habitat for the platypus 
> without quite endorsing the word "never" as used by
> Sallyo.

I seem to recall once reading of fossils of platypus
ancestors/relatives being found in South America - I'm
sure we could postulate a small remnant population
trapped after the break up of Gondwanaland migrating
north with the opossum. Or it may have clung on the
back of that crocodile in that dreadful movie "Lake


Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now.
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list