BUNK Volume 3 Number 1

Hand-Tinted Plate

Hand-tinted plate of Otiorhynchus ovatus
For hand-tinting, color each area in the drawing by the number
in that area, using the following color code:  1: brown.

Editorial: Our Emblem

In the peaceful times since the appearance of Volume 2, Number 1 of our journal, we, the editors, have received a flurry of queries about the publication. Some of you have asked the whereabouts of Volume l; others have puzzled over our hallowed emblem: What does rnorare lente mean, and why is the date of founding 1450, and of incorporation 1452? And what is this beetle pictured on the emblem? As this issue of B.U.N.K. is in part a response to the last question, I will not deal extensively with that most delightful of animals, Otiorhynchus ovatus. Instead, I will turn my attention to more historical matters: the founding of B.U.N.K., and its emblem.

The drama opens in the Swiss Alps. The year is 1450; it is early spring. The air is filled with the freshness of the new season: the sun is shining, the snow melt is trickling in rivulets across the newly-awakened ground, the birds are playing cheerfully about, the leaf buds of trees are about to greet the warm air. People are around and about, yodelling, herding sheep, building quaint chalets, and making beer.

All, that is, except for one lonely soul. In the corner of a dark, musty study sat Høwärd Mäcginteesburger (Howard McGinty’s most illustrious ancestor; see Acorn 1984, B.U.N.K. 2(1):11-15 for the description of an astounding beetle named after Howard). Høwärd was depressed. Today, he had tried to shift a paradigm in biology, and failed. What to do? Should he attempt to…

Suddenly, an Otiorhynchus ovatus thundered onto his desk (Høwärd had very acute hearing). For the moment, Høwärd let rest his worries, and watched the gentle movements of this lumbering creature. As its plodding gait carried Høwärd from harsh reality into peaceful sleep, the quiet man began to dream visions of the magnificence of beetles, and the sweeping grandeur of their intricate connections to the universe around them.

So astounded was Høwärd by his dream, that, upon awakening, he felt he must impress upon the rest of mankind his view of the glory of beetles. But how to spread the woId? For this, Høwärd turned to a hobby of his, the mechanical impression of the written word upon paper.

The rest is history. In no time at all, Høwärd had produced one hundred copies of Volume 1, Number 1 of his new Biologie Und Naturwissenschaft der Käfer. (It should be noted that, contrary to popular belief, the Gutenberg Bible was thus not the first mechanically printed book in Western culture, having appeared about 4 years later, and the first issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London was not the first periodical, being a full 215 years the junior.) Two years later, in 1452, the Incredibly Tremendous Society for Biologie Und Naturwissenschaft der Käfer was formed.

Unfortunately, a freak accident with pinning forceps and 3000 kg of cork packing chips brought about a quick end to Høwärd’s work, and his life.

Høwärd’s work lay dormant, and for the most part unnoticed, until 1984. In that year, a certain coleopterist (who wishes to remain anonymous) was searching for some Chaudoir types in the Paris Museum. After several hours of cursing, with eyes sore from searching through Schmitt box after Schmitt box (a recently consumed bottle of red wine no doubt contributed to the visual difficulties), he happened upon a box containing not beetles, but a tattered, crumbling manuscript. It was the last surviving copy of Volume 1, Number 1 of Biologie Und Naturwissenschafl der Käfer! Carrying back a photocopy of the perishing work to the New World, the coleopterist showed his discovery to the three current editors. So moved were we by B.U.N.K. and Høwärd’s vision, that we took it upon ourselves to humbly revive his ambitious project.

Høwärd chose as the symbol of his quest for knowledge of beetles and their universe his beloved Otiorhynchus ovatus; in keeping with this tradition, and for the reasons outlined by my esteemed colleague in the ensuing editorial, an individual of Otiorhynchus ovatus was included in our emblem. Included too were the prominent dates in the history of B.U.N.K.: the years of Høwärd’s pioneering efforts (1450, 1452), and the resurrection date of 1984. And below the elegant, plodding beetle, waves the words, “morare lente”, the motto of the editors in our work with B.U.N.K.: “Go slowly with leisure” (1,2). 

David R. Maddison
January 1986

1. Some readers have told us that “morare” is misspelled that it should right1y be “morari”. However, in Switzerland in the 1400’s there was a local dialect of Latin with slightly different declension from the classical language; as it was this dialect that Høwärd came to know and love, we have decided to maintain his original spelling. 

2. Any resemblence of our emblem to those of other entomological societies is purely coincidental, and at most reflects the chance placement of an American Entomological Society logo under my tracing paper.

Copyright © 1986, 1996, David R. Maddison, John H. Acorn, and Robert S. Anderson.

Spreading the vision

The Editors of B.U.N.K. spreading Høwärd’s vision on the street corners of Edmonton.
Illustration by Diane Hollingdale.

Born to be wild

Born to be wild. Drawing by J.H. Acorn.

Editorial: The Otiorhynchus ovatus Festschrift Issue

Fellow graduate students always seem to be on the lookout for weevils, and, as I am the resident snoutologist (see previous illustration), it has been on more than one occasion that I have been greeted by a smiling proud face and an extended hand. “I found it on the wall in the bathroom…” or “It was walking across the sidewalk…” or “It was floating in the toilet…” are statements which frequently accompany the gift as I place the treasured prize under the scope. But even before I can get a glimpse of it, I already know that it is likely none other than Otiorhynchus ovatus, the strawberry root weevil, very inappropriately named because they seem to me to be found everywhere one might imagine except on strawberry roots. It is now my turn to look up with an apologetic smile as I attempt to explain to the proud bestower of the gift that the prize with which I have been entrusted is the world’s slowest animal and the world’s commonest weevil Otiorhynchus ovatus.

But lessons are to be learned from all experiences, and encounters with Otiorhynchus ovatus are no exception. As with common names, scientific names should be carefully selected to embody certain attributes of the animal that allow for its easy recognition. Here is where the lesson is to be learned, for unlike its common name, no scientific name, especially that of the genus, is more appropriate than Otiorhynchus ovatus. Derived from the Latin “otiose” meaning “at leisure; leisurely, without haste; calmly, fearlessly”, and the Greek “rhynchus” meaning “snout, nose”, the generic name, first introduced by E.F. Germar in 1824(1), could not better embody the most distinctive feature of this taxon, its slothful stride. Our choice of Otiorhynchus ovatus as the B.U.N.K. mascot is in large part due to this attribute, and, as outlined by my esteemed colleague in the previous editorial, to Høwärd’s visions of the magnificence of beetles and their universe as seen in the dream-like state induced in him by his first encounter with Otiorhynchus ovatus. This is an animal that for all its unrewarded efforts actually seems to believe that it can get somewhere, and perhaps, maybe even accomplish something. It also attempts to succeed in this q,uest without any gimmicks, illusions or rfancy extras”, just through slow, deliberate, small individual steps, many unintentionally retraced and subsequently repeated, perhaps endlessly. The sight of the unrelenting endless uphill struggle made by an individual against gravity, beit on a wall or a sand dune, does something to our spirits as undoubtedly it did to Høwärd’s some 535 years ago in Switzerland.

By choosing this creature, we hope to symbolize the pursuit of an understanding of beetles and their universe through similar small, repeated steps, each perhaps individually insignificant, but as a whole, striving for some as yet undetermined goal. This, our third issue, is a pioneering one, and one we are sure that Høwärd would have treasured and held dear to his heart. It is our tribute to a wonderful animal and its ways. Ways we think should be applauded and treasured by all. Readers, it is the Otiorhynchus ovatus Festschrift Issue!! Enjoy, and remember Otiorhynchus ovatus, Høwärd and his dreams, and morare lente!!

Robert S. Anderson
January 1986

1. E.F. Germar may prove to be a descendent of Høwärd Mäcginteesburger, or, perhaps his choice of a name, like so many things fine men do, was visionary!

God is, Forsooth, a Scarab: A Rebuttal to Acorn’s Repugnant Carabid Hypothesis

Brett C. Ratcliffe
Systematics Research Collections
W 436 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
68588-0514 U.S.A.

Dixit etiam Deus: Producant aquae reptile animae viventis, et volatile super terram sub fumamento caeli. Creavitique Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem atque motabilem, quam produxerant aquae in species suas, et omne volatile secundum genus suum. Et vidit Deus, quod esset bonum. Benedixitique eis, dicens: crescite et multiplicamini, et replete aquas maris: avesque multiplicentur super terram. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies quintus.

Acorn (1984) suggested the startling (but patently absurd) possibility that God is a carabid. He proferred this heresy based on some obscure lines that said “split wood: I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.” Carabids are sometimes found in these places. Acorn’s perusal of the literature was curiously cursory (self-serving one might say), and I believe his interpretations of the available body of evidence were erroneous. We may only hope that it was not deliberately so, that is to say, the specter of a demonaic carabid cult looming ominously out of the steppes of Edmonton.

I propose here to present a more harmonious, parsimonious, and logical argument falsifying Acom’s warped line of “reasoning” and to demonstrate through the use of shared, advanced character traits that God is, in fact, a Scarab. My evidence is overwhelming, and the hypothesis is, in fact, testable. Unfortunately, none of us will be in a position to write about it once we test it; such is the nature of death and advanced nirvana.

Regard the following from- the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel, no date):

Cl, V4. “As I looked, behold a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming bronze.” It seems self-evident from the incipient drama that someone important is approaching. Read on.

Cl, V15. “Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel (sphere) upon the earth beside the living creatures…” Now I ask you, what creatures of the natural world utilize spheres upon the earth? Carabid beetles? Hyenas? Golden moles? No! Scarabaeine dung beetles, that’s who! Those industrious, thinking beings whose task is, upon reflection, noble… though it is seldom considered so. After all, the consequences of their lack of industriousness is too alarming to seriously consider.

Cl, V22. “Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of a firmament, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads.” Note the typical representation of the poetically used word “firmament” as in the scriptures and in many paintings of the Christian Deity (Fig. 1) and the clypeal rays of the Sacred Scarab, Scarabaeus sacer (Fig. 2). Incredib]y detailed outgroup analyses rule out convergence or multiple evolution of this trait. Translators of the Bible and Renaissance painters botched it by anthropomorphizing to obtain results as in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Typical anthropomorphic illustration of Christian Diety.  
Note representation of clypeal teeth (arrow) and face.
Figure 2. The Sacred Scarab, Scarabaeus sacer.
Lovely, isn’t it?

C1, V23. “And under the firmament, their wings were stretched out straight…and each creature had two wings covering its body.” Does not this sense of discovery begin to make you tremble with impending revelation? The similarity between scripture and the Sacred Scarab is no less than electrifying!

C1, V24. “And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of a host; when they stood still, they let down their wings.” Face it, carabids simply do not fly with a thunder of wings…not even a whole squadron of them. They do not have the body mass or flight dynamics to make the sound of many waters. Scarabs on the other hand, do have what it takes to create such a sound of heavenly tumult and thunder (Bennett, 1976).

The coincidences between Ezekiel’s vision of God and the characteristics of Scarabs are, in fact, correlations. This analogy from the God-inspired writings of Ezekiel is a purposeful attempt to reveal to us the true nature of the Deity. Acorn’s premise of “split wood and I am there, and lift up the stone and I am there” may now be put in its proper theistic perspective, i.e. the presence of larval scarabs…or nascent godlings.

The ancient Egyptians were not so obtuse as modern man; they had their priorities right. The dung beetle (Scarabaeus sacer) played an important and prominent role in their religion. The Sacred Scarab and its ball rolling behavior symbolized the sun god, Ra. After 200 B.C., during the Middle Kingdom, people believed the Sacred Scarab had magical powers that ensured rebirth after death. Consequently, its likeness was fashioned into amulets and used exclusively in jewelry (Fig. 3), in burial chambers, and in wrappings of mummies and daddies (no kidding!). Heart scarabs (Fig. 4) carved from greenstone replaced the heart inside the deceased so that the truthful heart might not incriminate its owner in the next world. These heart scarabs frequently had verse from the Egyptian Book of the Dead carved on the bottom side. The use of Scarab amulets expanded until they were used as good luck charms by the Persians, Romans, (Ratcliffe, 1980)… and some modernites like myself (hell, I’m not taking any chances!).

Figure 3. Portion of a gold inlaid pendant from the tomb of King Tutunkhamun showing the sun god depicted as a Scarab pushing the sun’s disc.
Figure 4. Egyptian heart scarab showing top and hieroglyphics on bottom.

Did the Egyptians, in their wisdom, use a carabid beetle to represent their religious beliefs and cosmic view? Emphatically not! Carabids are good for skittering in the litter or peering into the homes of certain gastropods or infesting a tropical canopy, but they will never, ever have that certain aura of royal presence and religious significance possessed by Scarabs.

Hinduism and Brahmanism also take these traits of scarab beetles into account. I mean, holy cow, do you for one minute believe there is no connection between all those sacred bovines sashaying around on the Indian subcontinent and dung beetles? It’s food for thought.

The Navajo Indians of the American Southwest also realized the importance of dung beetles (ca’nilma si or coyoté dung rollers) in their world view (Wyman and Bailey, 1964). The point to be made is that Scarabs as religious significa could go on and on. But carabids so revered? Tout au contraire.

On a more empirical basis, consider that Scarabaeidae are more highly derived in the evolutionary scale than carabids and, as has been noted, share synapomorphies with what now passes for many as a Deity. I refer you to Ezekiel (loc. cit.) and Figures 1 and 2. Scarabs are more exalted than carabids because they occupy a higher position in any interpretation of phylogeny you might care to examine. Deus (personal communication, 1985) indicated that He is a Scarab, and that the idea of Him being carabidiform is distasteful in the extreme. Coleopterists should take heart in this because we all know deep down that carabids are primitive and of loose moral character. After all, they are prognathous (plesiomorphic) and eat other animals. Seventh Day Adventists will testify that eating flesh is sinful and is specifically forbidden in scriptures. So how could such an animal attain godhood? To even consider such a trifling cogitation is grotesque and irrational.

It is encumbent upon the investigator to reliably present data and interpret that data. Instead Acorn chose blasphemy. After lurching through Acorn’s treatise, one should heed Psalms 120 which states “In my distress I cry to the Lord, that he may deliver me: ‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue!'”. Acorn should pray for forgiveness for his transgression for, as Ezekiel (loc. cit.) says, (C13, V2), “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!”. One cannot seek the Deity in the “right place” sensu Acorn, for He is everywhere. Wilson (1978) sums this up rather nicely thusly:

                  Tumble-Turds and Lillies

          Beneath the yellow lillies, Tumble-Turds 
          Pursue their Oeconomical employment. 
          Two scarabae with thorax shields of crimson 
          And green gold, with ribbed and shining  
          Deep green wings and black horns recurved  
          Backward, search the dirt beneath the blooms  
          For dung just fallen hot from man or beast.  
          And from this excrement, one beetle makes  
          A ball to house an egg and rolls it backward  
          Off to its interment under lillies.
          Up from the middle of the dirt a lilly  
          Thrusts its stalk and spreads its yellow blooms  
          In floral canopy as if to make  
          A niche for these most humble artisans,  
          As if asserting general harmony  
          Between such opposite particulars.
          East of Eden even beetles work  
          In dust and plant their generations in  
          The filth to be reborn through warm decay  
          To green gold iridescence. The Garden's lost,  
          But beauty, purpose, even dignity  
          Persist where minute order seems design  
          And filth is spangled with such brilliant shards.
Figure 5. INTELSAP-16 photograph taken from high stationary orbit on 25 December 1984. Note Great Spirit near Earth. Photograph courtesy of NASA tracking.

The final evidence I present is a satellite image (Fig. 5) taken by the INTELSAP-16 in the early morning hours of 25 December 1984. This photograph clearly and unequivocally shows the GIeat Spirit of the Sacred Scarab tending the planet Earth. There can be no remaining doubt; pictures don’t lie. We are being brooded over and protected by a Deity. We know not our origins, nor where we are going now that we are here. Suffice to say, Lord Scarab will not let us get dumped on any more.

Literature Cited

Acorn, John H. 1984. Is God a carabid and if so why? Biologie und Naturwissenschaft der Käfer 2:5-8.

Bennett, Leon. 1976. Induced airflow created by large hovering beetles. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 69:985-990.

Ezekiel, no date. The Book of Ezekiel. In, God (ed.), The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Revised Standard Version. Thomas Nelson and Sons New York.

Ratcliffe, Brett C. 1980. Take a beetle to lunch today or the natural history of dung beetles. University of Nebraska News 59(18):1-4.

Wilson, David. 1978. In the Presence of Nature. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Wyman, Leland C. and Flora L. Bailey. 1964. Navajo Indian ethnoentomology. University of New Mexico Publications in Anthropology No. 12:1-158.

No two snowflakes

Mark W. Moffett
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
02138 U.S.A.

No two snowflakes are alike.

So easily said. Yet, as should be obvious, this assertion can only be proven through a concerted effort by expert’s around the globe.

And so it is. Seldom publically recognized, crack teams of the Frozen Liquid Asimilarity Classification Experiments (FLAKE) spend long hours from birth cataloguing the fallen frozen stuff. Most members of these teams are of Nobel Prize caliber, but no prizes have been offered. Dr. Wilfred Sneed of the Center for Operations and Research, North pole (the so-called ‘CORN’ unit) explains:

“A memo was circulated within the Nobel Committee, stating emphatically that no awards are to be made to employees of FLAKE. The reason for this should be obvious to all,” the great man leaned back in his plush chair and sighed. “Our responsibilities are considerable. We cannot afford to leave our duties long enough to accept material rewards.” Dr. Sneed gazed thoughtfully at the Van Gogh beside his desk, lit his pipe, and continued. “For example, if I were to receive three or four Nobels in my lifetime, this would thoroughly disrupt my research, and could destroy my career. The Nobel Committee understood this.

Of course, merely working for FLAKE is as gratifying as any prize,” added Dr. Sneed, as a truck backed into his office at CORN FLAKE headquarters and unloaded a great heap of snow onto his desk.

I watched Dr. Sneed sort the snowflakes, re-assembling broken flakes as he worked. Every flake was photographed, classified and catalogued. When he had finished with the massive white mound, the snow was piled back together and carried off. “The truck will return the snow to its original location,” Dr. Sneed told me as another icy ton slammed onto his desk top. “Our field teams are so efficient that most people never realize any freshly fallen snow is quickly picked up and returned. “

During lunch I asked Dr. Sneed how he could be sure no two snowflakes are alike. “There is only one case in which two snowflakes have been thought identical,” he said, munching his snow cone. “Caused quite a stir at the time. But the story is not for me to tell.” Dr. Sneed gestured at his phone and suggested I talk with Dr. Murdferd Tizfid of the South pole National Operations Warehouse (or ‘SNOW’ unit).

The budget for B.U.N.K. investigative reporters is too generous for us to bother with telephones (1), so I thanked Dr. Sneed for his help during the morning, and promptly arranged for jet transport south.

After a month’s stop in Jamaica to write up my interview with Dr. Sneed (I suffer, sadly, from writer’s cramp), I arrived at the SNOW FLAKE center at the south pole. There I was met by Dr. Tizfid, a cold fellow with brown hair. He was in a rush. “Flurry of activity to-day. I’ll need assistance. Are you a FLAKE?” He gave me an icy stare when I told him I was not. By then we were already in his Mercedes Benz, the chauffeur whisking us to the unit’s main building.

Upon entering his office, Dr. Tizfid frantically began to sort the windfall from a recent storm at Banzare Coast. Nevertheless, he was now more talkative, having adjusted to the idea of a visitor (one gathered these were not common). “Well, my dear Dr. Tizfid,” I eventually inquired. “What can you tell me of the case in which two snowflakes were thought identical?” Dr. Tizfid looked at me momentarily with an expression of infinite sadness, and then related his remarkable story.

Apparently a fellow researcher at the south pole had been gazing dreamily through rising coffee vapours at the SNOW FLAKE commissary, when something drifted past his field of vision and settled on his toasted bagel. The chap stared down at his plate in mute shock, and in the ensuing trama, flung himself to the floor in a series of terrible seizures.

Dr. Tizfid rushed to the aid of his writhing colleague, but then he saw the bagel. There, perched atop a thick layer of cream cheese and chives, was a flake bearing an undeniable resemblance to one catalogued several years back by FLAKE researchers at the north pole! Trembling with joy, he requested CORN FLAKE volume XPD-109364 from the library, just to be sure. He flipped rapidly to flake 7,349,582,352. It was a match!

It is during these times of extreme scientific ecstacy, when the mind reaches the limits of the explored and batters into the unknown, that the rules of science must be remembered and nurtured. Thus Dr. Tizfid consulted the invaluable slim volume published by the congress for General Research Edicts and Approved Techniques, International Code of Snowflake Nomenclature, as adopted by the G.R.E.A.T. Congress, Pittsburg, July l975. There, in Article 23, paragraph 1, in which it is declared that each snowflake is unique and a holotype unto itself, he read:

The only exception shall be if two flakes are judged to be exactly the same, and the GREAT FLAKE proclaims that identity may be proven only by direct comparison of the original flakes. The more recently described flake shall then be christened with the code designation of the other, and the two flakes shall be considered cotypes, forever more, Amen.

Fingers shaking with emotion, Dr. Tizfid telephoned Dr. Sneed at the north pole. Dr. Sneed was astonished by the news, and promptly arranged for flake 7,349,582,352 in volume XPD-109364 to be mailed to the south pole. The crystal in question was carefully packed in a manila folder and posted.

Unfortunately everyone had forgotten the intervening temperate zones, and the flake melted in transit.

Dr. Tizfid shrugged his shoulders. “Thus the case is unconfirmed, and, to this day, it must be considered a scientific fact that no two snowflakes are alike.” At this point another truck arrived, and unceremoniously buried Dr. Tizfid in his work.

1. The source for funding of B.U.N.K. is not clear. However, as B.U.N.K. is a journal of extreme merit, I suspect it is supported at least in part by the N.S.F., through grants to the recently formed Division for Conceptual Advances in Silliness. Whereas many divisions of the N.S.F. have recently suffered budget cuts, the Silliness Division has grown dramatically, perhaps because of the current administration’s strong interest in this area.

The Holdme-titre Warmbody Theory: 
A Corollary of the Law of Gravitation

Diane Hollingdale
Department of Zoology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

Warmbodies gravitate together, and the strength of tbe gravitational attraction is directly proportional to the combined mass of the two bodies (1), inversely proportional to the distance between them (2), directly proportional to the combined temperatures of the warmbodies, and inversely proportional to the difference between their two temperatures (3).

1. The two bodies need not be of equal mass; in fact experiments in progress seem to indicate that warmbodies of somewhat differing mass experience a stronger attraction than warmbodies of similar mass. 
2. The closer they get, the closer they “want” to be. 
3. The hotter the warmbodies, and the more similar their temperatures, the greater their gravitational attraction.

Cladistic Statements as Cladistic Formulae or How to Hate Cladistics and Love Mathematics

F.C. Thompson and D.R. Whitehead (1,2,3,4,5,6)
Systematic Entomology Laboratory IIBIII
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
c/o U.S. National Museum
Washington, D.C.
20560 U.S.A.

Interpretive Statement (7,8)

A simple method of presenting cladistic information is given. As cladistic hypotheses provide the basic synthetic building blocks of biology, the use of our method will: result in significant savings in the cost of storage and dissemination of systematic data.


Exactly as above, with various modifications and ramifications as required.


Is there a simple, shorthand way to present cladistic hypotheses? Certainly. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we merely belabor the obvious.

If systematic papers are to have a patina of scientific credibility, one or more games must be played. Cladistics is, de rigueur, a favored game. An elaborate cladogram (a sort of defoliated tree), however, betrays at best a mechanical tedium, and at worst, sheer ignorance. It requires ridiculous amounts of time to prepare, perhaps an artist’s services, and space and money to publish.

What substitute will better serve to lend scientific credibility? Why, surely, what can be more elegant and eloquent than a “mathematical” formula? A simple cladistic hypothesis can be stated thus: Group X = Taxa (a+b)+(c+(d+e)). In plain English, a and b as well as d and e are sister groups, with group d+e being the sister of c and that group in turn being the sister of group a+b. ln the equation, the left hand element identifies the group being considered and the right, a cladistic formula, explains the relationships within that group. Even with names spelled out, relationships of a small number of taxa can be clearly expressed in but one or two printed lines. (9)

We restrict further discussion to end-point taxa in dichotomous models. Those who explore mathematical games (or gams, as that is what the typer tried to say (10)) may extend these ideas to more complex models. Cladistic formulae can be used to express any kind of branching relationships.

Our game is to explore perception. For our models to work (11), they must be dichotomous. Who would say that the following two lines are not identical, for instance?

Suppose, however, these lines are presented as: Wagnerian or Wagging networks? Which then is the longest? Or, by rules of parsimony (cheapskatedness), the shortest?

One fault of the standard cladogram is that its visual impact is linear, hence misleading. To overcome this each branching point or node should be considered as fully rotatable. Considered thusly, interesting numbers begin to emerge. For sets of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 end-point taxa, there are respectively; 1, 3, 15, 105, and 945 different sets of relationships regardless of rotatability of the nodes, and there are respectively; 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 different ways to view each single cladogram when rotatability is considered (i.e. a different linear arrangement of the taxa or “isomorph”). Thus for the five-taxon example cited previously, there are 104 other possible hypotheses, and there are also 15 other ways to express the proposed hypothesis; in all, relationships among the five end-point taxa in a strictly dichotomous system may be expressed in 105 x 16 cladograms, or a total of 1680 visually different trees.(l2)

The formula given previously for Group X is one hypothesis, and it is one of 16 possible isomorphs. Per se, it has no advantage over a tree (except that it may not be botanical, so therefore it can apply to beetles). Lacking however, is the confusion of lines inherent in the tree; the hypothesis is reduced to symbolic logic, wherein elements shift mentally without recourse to repeated diagrams.

Our point is clear. Smash the optical illusion of linearity. Our reason should also be clear. Accommodate optically contradictory but compatible morphoclines. A few sample morphoclines will illustrate the point. In the formula: Group X = Taxa (a+b)+(c+(d+e)), relationships are indicated by morphoclines in characters 1, 2, and 3, thus:

  1. (a, b)  c  d  e
  2. (a, b)  (d, e)  c
  3. (c, d, e)   a   b

If the hypothesis is drawn directly as a tree, the illusion is that taxa a and e are least related, because they are on opposite sides of the tree. In the isomorphic formula: Group X Taxa (c + (d + e) ) + (a + b), rotatability is obvious; in the derivative tree, the illusion is that taxa a and e do not appear to be least related.

Whenever only a bare cladistic hypothesis is intended, the shorthand formula is the ultimate in elegance.

To summarize we ask two questions: (1), which network is longer?

And, (2), which of the following trees are the same?

The answers are (1), neither, and (2), all. If you got both right, good: you are a true cladist, as reality means more than appearance. If you got both wrong, bad: you are a hopeless pheneticist, as appearances (overall similarity) are more important to you than reality. If you got one right, you are confused, uncertain as to whether reality or appearances are more important, hence belong to the eclectic school. And school is out!

1. Who is senior and who is junior? For this fantastically important contribution we flipped a coin: The senior author is junior and the junior, senior. At least in age. Beware of illusions: they lead to misconceptions. 
2. Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Labatts, Miller, Molson and Schlitz brewed the appropriate intellectual stimuli, not to mention illusions, misconceptions, and eventual delusions. Bob Gordon (the man who studies the beetles that roll him), John Burns, Tom Henry (bugs suck), and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry provided effervescent comment. We apologize to any contributors lost in the foam of time. We do not thank those who thought the topic stupid. 
3. Please don’t request reprints. At this writing it hasn’t been printed yet so there aren’t any reprints. Try preprints instead. FCT thought this comment stupid. But as in Penelope Ashe’s “Naked Came The Stranger”, stupid comments stay in and only good stuff is edited out. So why is the article so long? Illusion? 
4. This paper has not been approved for publication. In fact, it was squelched. So, here it is: It is an illusion; misconceived; aborted; miscarried. Justice! 
5. 0riginally (1965) prepared for Sitzungsberichte der Historische Investigierungen und Technik, but reassinged to B.U.N.K. by invitation when no S.H.I.T. could be found. It (S.H.I.T.) was illusory. 
6. We don’t know anything about beetles (FCT, Dipterist and Computerologist; DRW, Diplopodologist, Hemipterist, Weevilologist, ad nauseum), but we assume, trust, hope, and pray that our observations somehow are of interest.
7. One reason these things don’t get published is that we seek to avoid being an embarrassment to congressmen. So we seek to avoid perusal by congressmen. This is a “coffee break” article. We have not squandered (spent, maybe- squandered, no) research time nor government funds on it. Hence, it is B.U.N.K. 
8. Agricultural Research Service papers receive close scrutiny at all levels. This one defies all levels of acceptance so was merely peeked at. Praise the Willi.
9. lt gets messy when X = (a+(b+c))+(d+(e+((f+g) +((h+(i+j)))))). We probably gummed this up. Too much math. You gotta count the parentheses, and balance the equation (the parentheses define nested sets). At least the left is right, even if the right is wrong
10. Actually we may not be true cladists. because the typer insists on “caldist”. Perhaps this is just a tpyo.
11. Free of charge.
12. Since there is only one evolutionary history, there must only be one correct tree. Which of the 1680 do you like?

Regular Features

Collecting Anecdotes

The “Rule of Thumb” Law

James E. O’Hara

It has always been my practice as a collector to carefully consider the potential defensive actions of an insect I am stalking. Should it be (a) netted, (b) grabbed indiscriminantly, or (c) gingerly picked up in such a manner as to neutralize such organs of defense as stings and jaws? My “Rule of Thumb” law is to choose either the former or the latter in doubtful situations.

To my ever lasting amusement I discovered during a chance meeting with one of B.U.N.K.’s distinguished editors, Mr. Bob Anderson, in Portal, Arizona, that quite independently, Bob had developed a far more effective “Rule of Thumb” law to assess the pain-inducing capabilities of insects. I might never have been privy to this information had I not observed with interest one night, the varied insect life attracted to Bob’s blacklight. My attention was drawn to a large (3 inch) female dobsonfly just outside the glimmer of the lights. With formidable inch long mandibles and a long flexible neck, I quickly applied my “Rule of Thumb” law and classified the beast in the (c) category. Whilst maintaining a cautious grip near the metathorax I offered my find to Bob for his perusal. Thereupon I was introduced to Bob’s “Rule of Thumb” law dealing with such situations. “Oh these don’t bite” Bob remarked as he slid his thumb between the jaws of the by then agitated dobsonfly. What happened next, I’m not sure, because it all happened so fast; Bob’s thumb spurted blood, words were used that can’t be printed here, and the poor dobsonfly was catapulted into space by a quickly withdrawn hand. I’ll always remember Bob’s “Rule of Thumb” and envy its straightforward; approach to a dilemma faced by many an entomologist, but thank you, Bob, I’ll stick to my own system.

On educating the ignorant public regarding the wonders of nature

John H. Acorn

It is truly unfortunate that so few biologists realize the great joys to be had by interpreting the ways of nature to the members of the general public. This was my summer job as an undergraduate, and for two summers I worked at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, at Lac La Biche, Alberta. There, I was given a lovely green uniform, and a run-down green truck.

One fine summer afternoon, I was “roving” along the road (“roving” means walking along admiring nature while wearing a uniform, in the hopes that somebody will ask you what you are doing), when I spied a cluster of Anthaxia aenogaster (small beetles of the family Buprestidae) in a dandelion. Seeing two rather unkempt and seedy-looking cowboy types coming my way, I knelt down to admire these tiny creatures (the beetles that is). Eventually, one of the cowboys asked me what I was doing, and I invited them over to see the beetles, in the hopes that they might benefit by a contrast to the ignorant redneckism which no doubt pervaded their lives. I explained that I was a naturalist, and that I had stopped to admire some metallic wood-boring beetles in a flower. I encouraged them to see for themselves, and they both bent down and peered into the flower. I prepared myself for the usual ridicule, and felt sorry for these two stupid men, who undoubtedly could not even dimly imagine the deep understanding people like myself have of nature’s ways. Then, slowly, they stood up, looked at one another while chewing on a couple of grass blades. One mumbled to the other “hmm, just looks like a couple of goddam buprestids to me”, and they walked on down the road.

Histerical misidentification

Robert S. Anderson

Now, as a purported student of those marvellous nosy little fellows, the weevils, I am, in retrospect, rather embarrassed by an event which occurred in late summer of 1979 while a fellow student, Steve Marshall, of Diptera fame, and myself were baking our brains in the badlands of southern Alberta.

In the badlands, or any arid area for that matter, one of the best places to “beetle” is under those heaven sent [I object… incipient scarabaeodeism in our editorship? – J.H.A.] piles of processed prairie that cows scatter in their daily wanderings. Beetles of all sorts are known to congregate there for warmth and companionship.

But first a few short words to preface the story. At that time I was a beginning graduate student at Carleton University, and looking forward to spending a field season trapping carrion beetles, prepared to head west. But I had not left before that dreaded deluge which preceeds all field trips: colleagues putting in their requests for all sorts of obscure animals to be preserved in some bizarre way, that to make an honest effort to find, would take us miles from our own objectives. One fellow student got in his request for histerids, particularly those that might be associated with ants.

Well, I was flipping over the “beetle brothels of the badlands” scanning the ground for signs of our friend, the coleopteran, when lo and behold..a histerid..and..ants; myrmecophilous histerids, the ones that I had been told to be on special lookout for…. Que milagro! Filling my vials with this incredible find…they were under every cow pat…I shouted to Steve to look for them as well. Fifteen minutes later Steve came over the ridge with a puzzled look on his face that told me he hadn’t found any. “No histerids” he said, not to my surprise. “Only heaps of weevil elytra”. Frustrated, I slowly began to extricate a vial to show him what they looked like, concurrently berated dipterists for their inability to recognize beetles, when I began to have second thoughts about my find myself. After all, just about the commonest animal in the badlands of southern Alberta is the weevil Otiorhynchus ovatus, a species whose dark brown adults are flightless with the elytra solidly fused together along the midline. Things slowly began to come together….ants….disarticulation….Otiorhynchus ovatus. Sure enough, sixty-three sets of fused weevil elytra do not a good days catch make.

Odds and Sods

“[Man] doesn’t fly like an eagle, he flies like a beetle. And you must have noticed how ugly, ridiculous and fatuous is the flight of a beetle.”—-Joseph Conrad, 1921, in a letter to Bertrand Russell.

“If God is a carabid, why did he make so many weevils?”—-George E. Ball, Entomological Society of Alberta Annual Meeting, 1985.

“If God is a carabid beetle, is George Ball a priest?”—-Wayne P. Maddlson.

“A Chalcididae keeps the doctorate away.”—-Daryl J. Williams. (A warning addressed to Gary Gibson while he was attempting to complete his thesis on small, parasitic hymenopterans) .

“A closed mouth gathers no foot”—-Traditional.

Letters to the Editors

Dear Editors:
As a hymenopterist, I was delighted to see that the most outstanding contribution in the first issue of B.U.N.K. was not on beetles per se, but on their universe (in keeping with your first editorial). Let me congratulate you on including this fine article, to be found on page 4 [in the original printing of B.U.N.K. on paper, page 4 is a blank page – eds.]. It certainly eclipses any of the other contributions. Could you please supply me with the author’s name and address which must have been inadvertently omitted, so that I can request a reprint.

Sincerely, Jeffrey M. Cumming.

Eds. note: When we first received your letter we questioned your claim to be a hymenopterist; we question it even more now that you are soon to be employed as a dipterist. Surely this must be an oversight on your part. Nevertheless we will provide you with the author’s name and address, but we have checked our records and the author’s name and address are clearly given in our file copy. They are 

Please feel free to contact us if we can be of further assistance. 

Dear Editors:
I was stalking the elusive pronghorn anecdote when a beetle bit me. The doctor prescribed an auntie-dote before I could tell him that my aunties had all been passed over and on to heaven. I cannot locate even so much as a maresy-don’t let along a doesey-doe, so if your readers are collecting anecdotes, could they save one for me?

William B. Barr

Eds. note: Ooooookay Bill. Earth calling Bill, earth calling Bill, come in Bill…..

Dear Editors:
Enclosed are three student memberships. I must add that upon opening my copy of B.U.N.K., the first beetle of spring flew in and landed on the pages. No surprise, it was a staphylinid known to favour dung. Please see that our names are not entered upon any lists that potential employers may see.

Yours, Mike Ivie, Sam Stribling, Rich Miller.

Eds. note: Your staphylinid must have missed its mark. Perhaps your theses were nearby? We olso hope that we got your names spelled correctly.


(passed on to us by Wayne P. Maddison) 

Administrative Assistant–Admissions Department seeks experienced theologian and computer programmer to handle large influx of applications from microcomputer RAM buffers, who were sadly lost when their computers were turned off, and are now seeking admission to our Electronic Souls Program. Knowledge of Z80, 8086 and 68000 machine languages especially desirable. Retirement benefits luxurious. Apply, with three letters of recommendation and death certificate, to St. Peter Dean of Admissions, Pearly Gates, Heaven 98250.

Position ajar-Professor of systematic conceptuology sought by Philosophy Department to teach and do research on the distinctions among and naming of concepts, and to curate our large collection of concepts, many of which are unsorted, unnamed, and poorly preserved. Applications from conceptuonymomultiplicationists (those who believe a new concept is generated every time an old concept is distinguished and named) are discouraged. Send a CV and a list of names of all the concepts in this advertisement to: Blamo Breakfast Cereal Special Offer, P.O. Box 42, Young America, Ill. 60722.