2018 Taxonomy Pun Contest Winners!

Happy Taxonomist Appreciation Day! Announcing Our First 5th Annual Pun Contest Winner!

Happy week of Taxonomist Appreciation Day! Years ago, California State University Dominguez Hills’s Associate Professor of Biology Terry McGlynn minted the day to call attention to the extraordinary and often-overlooked services taxonomists provide to all of us. Buzz Hoot Roar honors our systematists and taxonomists with a pun competition. For our fifth year, we had dozens of top-rate punsters and some of our all-time favorite puns. With the help of our judges, we selected five favorites, and will share one with you each day this week.

This year, we had three very special celebrity guest judges: Clinton ColmenaresNatalie Sopinka, and Neil McCoy (Learn more about them below.)


Drumroll, please… Announcing Friday’s winner! Pun and illustration by Cory Bryant (@Brantromyzon), a postdoctoral Great Lakes researcher who loves to communicate science through art and stories.

Thursday’s winner, Raymond Nakamura (@raymondsbrain), has got us covered:

Wednesday’s winner, Christina Madlinger (@C_Madlinger), empowers manta rays everywhere:

What did the stingray say when her husband was unfaithful?

Tuesday’s winner Mustelid tell you something! Way to go, Quinn Burrell (@Quinnidae)!

Here is Monday’s winner. Congratulations, Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley (@connectedwaters)!

Learn more about our awesome celebrity guest judges!

Natalie Sopinka is a communicator of science at Canadian Science Publishing. She is a fish biologist by training, lover […]

By |March 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Announcing Buzz Hoot Roar’s Fifth Annual Taxonomy Pun Contest!

In honor of our great appreciation for those who love to order, classify, categorize, group, arrange, grade and rank (and just in time for Taxonomist Appreciation Day), Buzz Hoot Roar is proud to announce its fifth annual pun contest.

For inspiration, check out one of last year’s winners:

Pun and illustration by Jennifer Joslin (@SpecimenJenn)

Here’s how it works:

1. Tweet us your best taxonomy-related pun by Wednesday, March 14.

2. Our celebrity judges will select five favorites.

3. Winners will receive: their puns illustrated on Buzz Hoot Roar’s blog, a set of printed greeting cards to share with the taxonomists in their lives, and a BHR super-soft T-shirt.

Let the witticisms begin!

By |March 9th, 2018|Contests|2 Comments

The heat is killing me. No, really.

Without a doubt, these heat waves and air pollution are killing us.

The World Health Organization estimates that our crazy climate change weather trends over the past 30 years kill more than 150,000 people each year.

A climate change-related heat wave in 2003 killed nearly 70,000 people in Europe alone. That’s bad news, as historically hot summers are becoming an annual norm for most of us.

Even the poor cows make less milk.

The mercury seesaw also may be pushing us over the mental edge, as hotter days wreak havoc on our identities and livelihoods.

Ocean oscillations like El Niño can lead to cooler years and mask global warming, but don’t be fooled: The warming trend and increasing extreme weather persists.

When people dump greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor in the atmosphere, they trap heat and the planet feels the burn. More ocean water evaporates, and monster storms pour down. At the same time, evaporation, early snow melt, and more lead to drought. Crops drown or burn. Even lizards bake toward extinction.

Get a popsicle. Maybe take a walk. But try […]

By |October 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Recluse or Not? Citizen science with SPIDERS!

Though many of us believe brown recluse spiders lurk in every crevice and unoccupied shoe, ready to chomp down at a moment’s notice, most evidence suggests it doesn’t happen that often. But who could blame us for feeling concerned? We may even be genetically predisposed to fear spiders. Our fear doesn’t bode well for spiders, who–regardless of whether they’re helpful or harmful–often find themselves at the wrong end of our shoe.

Fortunately, there’s a new citizen science project, Recluse or Not, that aims to help reveal what’s actually lurking in our crevices while at the same time clear the brown recluse’s bad rap.

If you think you see a brown recluse spider, snap a pic and tweet it to @RecluseOrNot. There, one of three entomological experts: Matt Bertone (@bertonemyia), Catherine Scott (@Cataranea), and Eleanor Spicer Rice (@VerdantEleanor) will take a look and let you know if you’ve got a brown recluse. If you do, let them know your location and they’ll record it to improve scientists’ understanding of where brown recluses are hanging out these days. There will be quizzes with prizes! There will be useful and interesting spider information! Something for everyone!

To celebrate, enjoy this handy how-to on safely catching and releasing spiders by Jamie Van Wart.

Please visit Catherine Scott’s awesome blog to learn more about the project.

By Roar.

Art by Jaime Van Wart who is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Previously a User Experience Designer at IBM, Jaime recently graduated from CalArts with an MFA in Graphic Design and is currently working as an Art Director at Blind. See her work here and follow her on Twitter @meatballshorti.

By |October 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

BHR Artist in Residence Has A SciArt Book! And it’s free!

Who wants to know more about fungi? Everybody. Every single person. Buzz Hoot Roar proudly announces artist-in-residence Christine Nishiyama’s sciart book, We Are Fungi

Blending her charming-yet-accurate (except the mushroom eyes) illustrations and approachable tone, Nishiyama gives you the dirt on the planet’s largest organisms.
She shares some personal favorites of the mushroom world . . .
. . . as she leads you down the path, or maybe down deep underground, to understanding more about these mysterious organisms.


If you’d like to know more, and to see some sciart at its funnest, you can download it for free here: http://mightcouldstudios.com/we-are-fungi/ or check it out on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Fungi-Christine-Nishiyama/dp/0999403907/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


Christine Nishiyama is an illustrator + writer, making books and comics about life and science. She also teaches art to help other people make more art. Follow Christine at @might_could and check out more of her work here.

By |September 20th, 2017|artist in residence|0 Comments

Bull Sharks’ Road Trips

What do bull sharks, the Zambezi shark, van Rooyen’s shark, and Lake Nicaragua shark have in common?  A scientific name: Carcharhinus leucas.

Bull sharks often travel into freshwaters like Lake Nicaragua. For many years, scientists thought the Lake Nicaraguan sharks were a separate species, landlocked in the lake. When they tagged the sharks in the late 1960s, they saw the sharks could navigate the rapids of the 175 km-long San Juan River and reach the lake within 2-25 days.

Bull sharks are known for river cruisin’ in other parts of the world, too. They’ve even found them 4,000 km up the Amazon River, as well as in the Ganges, Mississippi, and Brisbane Rivers. Nobody’s sure why they make the trip. Maybe the eating’s better in lakes and rivers from time to time.

All fishes have to maintain a salt and ion balance in their bodies, so how does this saltwater species deal with adjustment to freshwater’s salinity? Well, bull sharks pee more in fresh water.

Sharks like to keep themselves a little salty. In oceans and rivers, sharks’ body fluids are saltier (hyper-osmotic) than the water they are navigating. Freshwater voyaging sharks get their briny bodies by huffing more water through their gills; they end up peeing more. Ion transport in the gills helps them reabsorb Na+ and Cl-. 

Other less-familiar sharks and rays take their own river cruises. The Ganges shark, Glyphis gangeticus, has been confused with its cousin, the bull shark, probably due […]

By |August 30th, 2017|Backbones|0 Comments

How Climate Change Makes Poison Ivy Stronger

Climate change isn’t just warming the oceans and endangering polar bears.

It’s also breeding larger, more toxic poisonous plants. 

Plants basically need three things to grow: sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. For millions of years, the supply of each of these ingredients remained relatively steady. Then came the Industrial Revolution, and people started burning fossil fuels to power their factories and vehicles, and heat and cool their homes. Today, there is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any other time in human history.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture wanted to see how this atmospheric disturbance affected plant health. In the depths of Duke Forest, they planted giant rings of PVC pipes, which rose out of the forest floor all the way up to the top of the tree canopies. Through holes in the pipes, the scientists released either copious amounts of carbon dioxide or equivalent rations of ambient air. 

After six years, they found that poison ivy grew 149 percent faster in the presence of elevated levels of the greenhouse gas than it did under normal conditions. Not only did the supercharged plants grow larger, but they also produced more urushiol, the compound responsible for its characteristic itchy rash.

Follow-up studies have shown that the nasty weed’s growth and potency have doubled over the last fifty years.

That’s particularly bad news for […]

By |July 26th, 2017|Climate Change|0 Comments

Coral Bleaching, or, how to drown a marine animal

Coral = tiny, tentacled animals called “polyps” (with a crunchy outer shell!) + algae. They’re ancient!

In addition to giving corals their stylish colors, those algae turn coral wastes into oxygen, sugars, and other important things that keep our waters in check. In turn, corals provide the algae with homes and steady incomes of nutrients.

They’re kind of a big deal.

Even though they cover only 0.1% of earth’s surface, corals harbor at least 25% of known marine creatures. Plus, reef structures provide a barrier that protect our beaches from storms and erosion.

And they can get a little stressed out.

Temperature, light, and food changes all give corals the willies. When they get frazzled, they spit out their colorful algae friends, and they turn white.

A recent study in the Mediterranean shows an 80% decline in coral reef cover. Without their internal food factories, corals get pretty hungry.

Two changes that can cause corals to majorly freak?

  1. Higher or lower temperature, and plummeting water pH because of increasing levels of CO2 in the ocean from greenhouse gases. Climate change.
  2. Sea-level rise, declining water quality, and overexploitation of key reef-loving species can also whitewash our waters. When corals bleach, many species find themselves out of their homes.

They’re still around, for now. We have a little time to help make things right. Figure out how to alter our greenhouse gas output. Protect reefs from over-fishing and trawling damage. We can help keep these underwater creatures from drowning.



Written by Roar.

Illustrated by Allison […]

By |April 6th, 2017|Climate Change|0 Comments

The final 2017 winner!

And our last winning submission for this year’s Taxonomy Day Pun Contest! The pun’s by @phishdoc!


Special thanks again to our expert judges for picking the punniest puns this year! Their job was a tough one. The competition was steep!

Our judges:

James Hutson (@jameshutson) is a visual science communications specialist who explains all manner of things with award-winning, animated and narrated explainer videos, illustrations and infographics (jameshutson.net).

Christine Nishiyama (@might_could) is an illustrator and writer working out of Atlanta. She lends her approachable, charming style to picture books, graphic novels, and comics. She also writes essays and teaches courses to help other creatives tell their own stories, and encourage everyone to make more art (mightcouldstudios.com).

Hoot, graphic designer (@sarahblackmonlips)

By |March 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pun contest, day 4…another winner!

Today’s winning submission by @oberrated explains why we’ve been hearing “Free Bird” trickling through salmon-packed babbling brooks and streams. #SciArt by Hoot (@sarahblackmonlips)!


By |March 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments