Plant carpel origin theories?

Leonard Krishtalka krishtalkal at CLP2.CLPGH.ORG
Tue Oct 11 10:35:24 CDT 1994

        This one is easy, even for a paleontologist.  We know that tarsal
morphology was deciphered by Saul of Tarsus, who changed his name to Paul when
it was discovered that he flubbed some of the homologies of the tarsal
elements.  As we know, Paul also thought it was an opportune time to change
vocations and proved to be much more influential in spiritual homologies.  This
is a lesson for all those morphologists who are shown up in Systematic Biology.

The carpus was originally described by Ruth of Carpus, a brilliant anatomist
from a small settlement west of the Dead Sea, who studied the slaughtered
remains of domesticated sheep, goats, camels, as well as skeletons of
vertebrates she found in nearby caves.  Gender discrimination being what it was
at the time, Ruth secretly wrote her descriptions on parchment, which she left
in one of the caves to be discovered by later, more enlightened generations.
The Greeks then, unknowingly, redescribed the carpus, naming the elements after
the Greek islands that resemble the shape of the bones: Samos, Mykonos, Lesbos,
etc., "os" meaning bone in Greek, ergo, "bone of Sam", "bone of Myko (Greek
version of Mike)", "bone of Les", etc.  Well, European nationalism being what
it is, a fight ensued over which nation's islands should be the carpal
namebearers.  Peace was achieved at a conference when it was decided to honor
Saul of Tarsus and use biblical references for the carpal elements, for
example, the almost forgotten sons of Noah, Lunate, Hammate and Sesamoid.

For more information on this curious history, get a hold of Dan Janzen and
Winnie Hallwachs, who recently returned from Samos with much of this story.


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