Meryl Yourish asks for help on the scientific name of an alpine banana slug, Ariolimax dolichophallus:
What are those latin terms anyway? Calling Doc Weevil . . . no, wait. I'll bet they're disgusting. Never mind. Besides, if you sound the last one out, it sounds rude enough.
As she guesses, the last part, -phallus, means just what it looks like it means. Greek dolicho- means 'long', so dolichophallus would translate the first two words of 'Long Dong Silver'. As for the genus, the Ario- presumably comes from the family name, Arionidae, but whether that refers to Arion the Greek poet saved by a dolphin, Arion the horse of Adrastus (one of the Seven Against Thebes), or something entirely different is not obvious. On the other hand, limax is easy enough: it's Latin for 'slug', and is most likely related to limus, 'mud, slime'.
Among much curious lore, the Sexual Records web-site reports that Ariolimax dolichophallus has the longest phallus in relation to body size of any living creature, and that a six-inch slug has a 32.5" organ: hence the name. This must be the individual record of an unusually well-endowed specimen, since the U.C. Riverside Urban Entomology site reports that "its extremely attenuate apical phallus (copulatory organ)" is only "occasionally . . . longer than the slug itself ". I wonder if U.C. Santa Cruz knew this when they chose the name 'Fighting Banana Slugs' for their sports teams.Posted by Dr. Weevil at January 16, 2003 07:15 PM