[Annelida] Odontosyllis is not a fireworm

Geoff Read via annelida%40net.bio.net (by gread from actrix.gen.nz)
Thu Oct 29 20:23:15 EST 2009

Hi all,

I was surprised to see a press release for a recent  paper by Scripps
biologists repeatedly use the term 'fireworm' for an Odontosyllis syllid
with bioluminescence, as though it was the accepted term for this group of
worms. It sounds impressive. And in analogy with firefly (a beetle!)
perhaps? Thus people would think the worms they already know as fireworms
would also have this bioluminescence.   However fireworm or fire worm is 
the common name for neurotoxic Amphinomidae such as Eurythoe complanata as
painfully encountered by divers.  Its application to Odontosyllis species
is comparatively rare, and, I think, aberrant both in science lit and
popular writings. And in Flickr there are 490 fireworm photos - yep, they
seem to be overwhelmingly Eurythoe and the like. No syllids noticed.

Identity confusion is somewhat lessened with scientific names. And
fighting  'slippage' in the precision of common names is probably futile.
But herein my (mild) disapproval is registered. FWIW.


Geoffrey B. Read, Ph.D.
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
gread from actrix.gen.nz

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