Sunday, January 9, 2011

A tribe of goats, a drift of sheep, and an ambush of llamas...I mean, herd.

We all know that it’s a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, and a disturbing murder of crows. But did you know, for example, that a group of rhinoceroses is called a crash? Or that a group of mice or rats is called a mischief? Or that toads and frogs live in knots, although frogs also live in...armies?


Birds may have the most obscure and ridiculous groupings, be it a charm of hummingbirds and a parliament of owls, a flock of ostriches but a mob of emus, a convocation of eagles, a kettle of hawks, a siege of herons, a party of jays, a colony of gulls, a covey of grouse, a congress of ravens (otherwise known as an unkindness)...or a piteousness of doves.

Why, you ask? To enable the existence of crossword puzzles and obscure scrabble words? To thicken our dictionaries and cloud our minds with bizarre words that seem entirely made up but which spell-check insists are just fine? Also, did you know that a group of bears is a ‘sleuth,’ or ‘sloth’?

And why do multiple parrots form a company, while mongooses (alas, not mongeese) and ferrets form a business?

My favorite? Jellyfish. Which come in a smack.

Sadly, some adorable animals, including koalas, platypuses, and pandas, are all without group names (likely because koalas and pandas were previously classified as bears, and thus sloths, plus pandas never come in multiples...and who knows anything about platypuses, really. Oh, except that their babies are called puggles!).

In alignment with the spirit of existing classification, I therefore propose the following...

A group of koalas shall henceforth be known as a ‘barmitzvah.’

A group of platypuses shall be called an ‘ointment.’

A group of pandas shall be known as an ‘apocalypse.’

My work is done.

An ointment of puggles.