9 Fun Facts About Boston Terriers

iStock/chuckcollier
iStock/chuckcollier

These lively and fun pups make the perfect companion. Why not learn a little bit more about the joyful Boston terrier?

1. THEY'RE AMERICA'S PRIDE AND JOY.

The Boston terrier is the first official breed created in the United States. They’re nicknamed the “American Gentleman” because of their tuxedo-like markings.

2. THEY WERE BRED TO BE FIGHTERS.

Coachmen crossbred their wealthy employers' dogs to create this pooch. They combined the English Bulldog with the (now-extinct) white English terrier. Originally, they were considerably larger and used as fighting dogs. After dog fighting became illegal, the breed shrunk in size.

3. THEY USED TO BE KNOWN BY A DIFFERENT NAME.

In 1889, about 30 fanciers got together and organized the American Bull Terrier Club. They called the dogs round heads or bull terriers. This moniker led to some opposition because there was already a different breed called the bull terrier that featured a much longer face.

By 1891, the club changed their name to Boston Terrier Club of America, and what once were round heads or bull terriers were now called Boston terriers.

4. IT'S THE STATE DOG OF MASSACHUSETTS.

The little dogs were first created in Massachusetts, so it only makes sense for the state to honor them as their dog emblem. The breed has held the honor since 1979.

5. THEIR NAME IS MISLEADING.

Despite being called Boston terriers, these pooches are not technically terriers. You’ll notice that they are excluded from the terrier category on the AKC website.

6. HELEN KELLER HAD ONE.

Phiz the Boston terrier was given to Keller by her classmates at Radcliffe College. Although the dog was wary of strangers, it’s said that the two hit it off immediately.

7. A WAR HERO MIGHT HAVE HAD SOME BOSTON TERRIER IN HIM.

When a stray dog wandered near soldiers training for World War I at Yale, he was quickly brought into the ranks. The canine was taught how to salute with his paw and named Stubby.

The heroic dog was brought overseas and proved himself by warning troops of gas attacks and helping paramedics find wounded soldiers. After spotting and attacking a German spy, he was promoted to Sergeant. The decorated dog was hailed a hero and got to meet Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge.

While Sergeant Stubby was probably a mutt, his obituary referred to him as a bull terrier. Since Stubby looks nothing like an actual bull terrier, it’s possible the paper was referring to the old name for the Boston terrier. If you look at Stubby, you can definitely see the resemblance.

8. YOU CAN FEEL PROTECTED WITH ONE AROUND.

Despite their small size, Boston terriers are considered excellent guard dogs. They are very protective of their families and their loud bark is enough to alert their companions of danger.

9. THEY'RE GREAT AT TRICKS.

Boston terriers are intelligent and eager to please, so it’s easy to train them. Dexter the Boston terrier has even mastered the skateboard.

This article originally ran in 2015.

Is There An International Standard Governing Scientific Naming Conventions?

iStock/Grafissimo
iStock/Grafissimo

Jelle Zijlstra:

There are lots of different systems of scientific names with different conventions or rules governing them: chemicals, genes, stars, archeological cultures, and so on. But the one I'm familiar with is the naming system for animals.

The modern naming system for animals derives from the works of the 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (Latinized to Carolus Linnaeus). Linnaeus introduced the system of binominal nomenclature, where animals have names composed of two parts, like Homo sapiens. Linnaeus wrote in Latin and most his names were of Latin origin, although a few were derived from Greek, like Rhinoceros for rhinos, or from other languages, like Sus babyrussa for the babirusa (from Malay).

Other people also started using Linnaeus's system, and a system of rules was developed and eventually codified into what is now called the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). In this case, therefore, there is indeed an international standard governing naming conventions. However, it does not put very strict requirements on the derivation of names: they are merely required to be in the Latin alphabet.

In practice a lot of well-known scientific names are derived from Greek. This is especially true for genus names: Tyrannosaurus, Macropus (kangaroos), Drosophila (fruit flies), Caenorhabditis (nematode worms), Peromyscus (deermice), and so on. Species names are more likely to be derived from Latin (e.g., T. rex, C. elegans, P. maniculatus, but Drosophila melanogaster is Greek again).

One interesting pattern I've noticed in mammals is that even when Linnaeus named the first genus in a group by a Latin name, usually most later names for related genera use Greek roots instead. For example, Linnaeus gave the name Mus to mice, and that is still the genus name for the house mouse, but most related genera use compounds of the Greek-derived root -mys (from μῦς), which also means "mouse." Similarly, bats for Linnaeus were Vespertilio, but there are many more compounds of the Greek root -nycteris (νυκτερίς); pigs are Sus, but compounds usually use Greek -choerus (χοῖρος) or -hys/-hyus (ὗς); weasels are Mustela but compounds usually use -gale or -galea (γαλέη); horses are Equus but compounds use -hippus (ἵππος).

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

A Rare Blue Lobster Ended Up in a Cape Cod Restaurant

Richard wood, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Richard wood, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Lobsters have precious few defenses when it comes to being tossed in a vat of boiling water or on a grill and turned into dinner. They have not yet evolved into not being delicious. But sometimes, one lucky lobster can defy the odds and escape their sentence by virtue of a genetic defect that turns them blue.

According to MassLive, one such lobster has been given a reprieve at Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Named "Baby Blue," the crustacean arrived at the restaurant from the Atlantic and was immediately singled out for its distinctive appearance.

Blue lobsters are a statistical abnormality. It's estimated only one in every two million carry the defect that creates an excessive amount of protein that results in the color. A lobsterman named Wayne Nickerson caught one in Cape Cod in 2016. He also reported catching one in 1990. Greg Ward of Rye, New Hampshire caught one near the New Hampshire and Maine border in 2017.

Lobsters can show up in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, a mixture of orange and black, white, and even take on a two-toned appearance, with the colors split down the middle. Blue is the most common, relatively speaking. A white (albino) specimen happens in only one out of 100 million lobsters. The majority have shells with yellow, blue, and red layers and appear brown until cooked, at which point the proteins in the shell fall off to reveal the red coloring.

It's an unofficial tradition that blue lobsters aren't served up to curious customers. Instead, they're typically donated to local aquariums. Nathan Nickerson, owner Arnold's, said he plans on doing the same.

[h/t MassLive]

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