Taxonomy in the popular media

Elaine Chittenden chitt at GNDS.MSU.EDU
Tue Jan 14 08:40:47 CST 1997

Robin Williams, the Doctor in Awakenings, was also a plant nerd who on
receipt of a beautifully color illustrated work on mosses verified the
identification of a vascular plant (Hedera) using that reference.  I thought
that was a bit odd seeing how it was filmed at New York Botanical Garden,
but at least botany was included.


>The movie "Medicine Man" comes to mind.
>Frederick J. Peabody
>Associate Professor of Botany
>University of South Dakota
>414 East Clark Street
>Vermillion, SD  57069  USA
>fpeabody at
>On Mon, 13 Jan 1997, aj49 wrote:
>> To those interested,
>> It occurs to me that there are at least a few, and probably many examples of
>> taxonomy taking a central role in popular television and movies.  For
>> example, a recent episode of X-Files hinged on the identity of a fungus
>> associated with mysterious deaths.  Or in the movie called the Silence of
>> the Lambs, in which the mystery was solved partly on the basis of the
>> identification of a moth, and the consequent biological information that the
>> detectives got based on the correct identification.  Maybe this has been
>> obvious to others, but it occurred to me for the first time that such shows
>> are great tools for explaining to one's inlaws or whoever the importance of
>> the seemingly esoteric science called taxonomy.  Movies and TV are closer to
>> home for most people than crop production, ecology and so-forth.  Do some of
>> you have other good examples of taxonomy in movies and TV?
>> Cheers,
>> Andy Jensen
Elaine Chittenden        Email:chitt at
Collections Manager, W. J. Beal Botanical Garden
Grounds Maintenance, Michigan State University

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