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Old 06-19-2011, 11:15 PM
Patrice Maire's Avatar
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Default Pandorapedia Taxonomy Errors

Hi there all, haven't been on here in a while but something just struck me and I needed to get it out.

I am knowledgeable in plant names and some animal names, been in the retail nursery industry for 14 years. So... seeing all the research and new plants that were invented for Pandora was exciting until....
I was reading the Survival guide the other night and some of the names didn't seem to ring true to the 'translation' they used from the Latin to English.
The Na'vi obviously was well researched but the 'actual' language.... hardly!

I would like to have anyone else familiar with taxonomy and name roots to help out with this and send a message to Cameron's crew that there are some people who do care about accuracy on something like this.

Let's start with the humble but important 'Glow Worm' or 'Brain worm'....
The scientific name for it in the Survival Guide as well as the Pandorapedia (since they got the information from the book)is
Arachnolumera nitidae, which in their translation means 'shining glow worm'. WRONG!

First, arachno is 'spider' or 'spider like', there is no taxonomical source for 'lumera, and 'nitidae' may be the only correctly placed word.

To correctly interpret 'shining glow worm' (and if anyone knows taxonomical rules better feel free to correct)

Shining = lucidus or nitidus (and by way of it being a description lucidae or nitidae.

Glow = nitor or possibly sublucea (small light)

Worm = vermis

Soooo, to put it in correct taxonomy we will say that it is a 'shining Glow Worm'. Because if you class 'glow worm' as a Genus and then specify that it is the 'shining glow worm' then it would have that species name on the end, so 'Glow worm' as a Genus would be:

Vermis sublucea, and then to describe that particular one because it is purple would be Vermis sublucea purpurea. (and since we deal in both latin and Greek taxonomy it's up for debate.)

Vermis sublucea purpurea would be 'Purple glow worm'.

IF you wanted to use 'shining' instead then it would be

Vermis sublucea nitidae. - 'Shining Glow Worm'

Harumph...

Again if anyone has better knowledge of animal classification then feel free to correct. Don't even get me started on the plant names....
that was the most glaring mistake that I found...more to come I'm sure.


I think what they were using was the root for the Earth firefly larva which when classifying new species it would have to be related in some way. Since this is a completely new species and not even on the same planet, using the same root family name as an earth insect is incorrect.
Arachnocampa is one species of firefly on earth and are all insects not true worms. Since it has not been shown that the Pandoran Glow Worm is a larval stage of a beetle or fly it is then to be classified as a type of true worm.
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Last edited by Patrice Maire; 06-19-2011 at 11:27 PM. Reason: looked up fireflies and glow worms on wiki for more info
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:27 AM
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Ever since the extra material decided to place the Na'vi in the hominind family (homo pandorus? SERIOUSLY? The Na'vi don't even have DNA, I fail to see how they are hominids), I basically try and ignore all the "scientific" names - I can't imagine how irritating it'd be to someone who actually knew the ins and outs of taxonomy.

That said, your corrections are fascinating.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:31 AM
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na'vi dont have dna? then how did they create the avatars
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tm20 View Post
na'vi dont have dna? then how did they create the avatars
Handwavy sci-fi science? They use something else to pass along genetic information, but not the type of DNA Earth life has (because separate solar system, so separate evolutionary path).
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:40 AM
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but you never know, maybe the life on Pandora is also based in amino acids as well. the chances are slim but still possible i just read the Na'vi and Avatars section in the survival guide. there's no mention of the Na'vi having DNA but also not having DNA. still waiting for that novel James Cameron >_>
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tm20 View Post
but you never know, maybe the life on Pandora is also based in amino acids as well. the chances are slim but still possible i just read the Na'vi and Avatars section in the survival guide. there's no mention of the Na'vi having DNA but also not having DNA. still waiting for that novel James Cameron >_>
Quote:
The Na’vi cell nucleus does not use nucleic acids to encode genetic information. Therefore, their genetic makeup is not considered to be DNA (thus they most likely do not utilize RNA in the synthesis of proteins)
I'm aware that comes from the game, but pretty sure I read that in one of the scripts, too. I'd actually be more surprised if they DID have DNA and RNA, because that would just be so...so, so very weird, and there almost HAD to be a genetic link between Earth-life and Pandoran-life.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:55 AM
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i have the game...i'll have to check again. i know the collector's edition blu ray has heaps of information since it has an encyclopedia on disc 2 or 3 but...im not reading all that shiit :|
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:34 AM
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I saw this thread and couldn't help but intervene...

@ Patrice Maire:

Yeah, welcome to the club. I'm a Biology Major, and the survival guide and Pandorapedia are really kind of a joke when it comes to scientific names.

Granted, it's just a movie, but some of them are really bad. My favorite one is how the "Arachnoid" has three pairs of legs, not four (and no chelicerae to boot :P)

Maybe I'm hoping for too much, but I kind of want JC to come back and fix that by giving some of the creatures in the movie real Latin names instead of weird fake ones, and maybe make something resembling a phylogenetic tree for what we have so far for Pandoran organisms.

@ Ashen Key:

Yeah, that was funny...

While placing the Na'vi in the genus Homo was silly, even trying to categorize alien life by our own phylogenetic standards is kind of inherently silly. It's all we have to go by, but its still pretty dumb.

Like I said to Patrice, maybe I'm hoping for too much, but I'd like something from JC about the phylogenetic tree of Pandora and maybe something about Na'vi biochemistry.

@ TM20:

Keep in mind that amino acids are just the building blocks for proteins. The Na'vi have to have protein of some sort as their basic physical building blocks, it's just that whatever substance that codes for the amino acids that make up those proteins is something entirely different from our own.

It would also have to be something that can bond to DNA end-to-end and respond correctly to the multitude of enzymes and proteins that conduct repair and replication operations on genetic material.
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Last edited by Raiden; 06-20-2011 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
COLOR="deepskyblue"]@ Ashen Key:[/COLOR]

Yeah, that was funny...

While placing the Na'vi in the genus Homo was silly, even trying to categorize alien life by our own phylogenetic standards is kind of inherently silly. It's all we have to go by, but its still pretty dumb.

Like I said to Patrice, maybe I'm hoping for too much, but I'd like something from JC about the phylogenetic tree of Pandora and maybe something about Na'vi biochemistry.
I have no explanation for the homo pandorus error (hence...ignoring it, because WHAT), but I think in my own headcanon most of the latin names are interim ones while the scientific community finishes arguing about how to categorize the Pandoran biota. Although you'd think Grace would do better on the plant names...
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:33 AM
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Speaking of genetic material..
If the Na'vi children can resemble their parents in some part, like how Neytiri resembles her mother then that would mean that the phenotype (physical traits) of genetic material in the chromosome is expressed, therefore proving that chromosomes are present in Na'vi biology. I'm no biology major but doesn't the presence of chromosomes mean that DNA is present, since a certain number of chromosome pairs ultimately form DNA?
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pa'li Makto View Post
Speaking of genetic material..
If the Na'vi children can resemble their parents in some part, like how Neytiri resembles her mother then that would mean that the phenotype (physical traits) of genetic material in the chromosome is expressed, therefore proving that chromosomes are present in Na'vi biology. I'm no biology major but doesn't the presence of chromosomes mean that DNA is present, since a certain number of chromosome pairs ultimately form DNA? :embarrassed:
Ohoho, you may not be a bio major, but you certainly are clever.

Yes, and no. A chromosome is essentially a very long, bundled-up strand of DNA (not the other way around), and all of your chromosomes make up the human genome. But yes, you are right; they have to have chromosomes.

The catch is that they don't have chromosomes made of DNA. DNA is just an acronym for Deoxyribonucleic acid; the Na'vi are just using a different kind of compound for their "nucleic acid".

Human Genetic Material is packaged like this:

Base Pair > Gene > DNA strand > Nucleosome > Chromosome

Na'vi Genetic Material could be packaged like this, but instead of DNA being the actual material, it would be whatever makes up their own genetic material.
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:18 AM
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Ohh I see. Thanks Raiden, You're very knowledgeable about biology. I'm sure there's a common link between Na'vi and human "DNA"..Somewhere..
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:51 PM
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Yay Raiden!
I knew you'd share your incredible science knowledge in this thread.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:20 PM
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The DNA part is actually never directly stated - the only thing that comes close is Jake mentioning Na'vi DNA, but he doesn't exactly know much there, but even if they don't use the same base pairs as humans, there would still be something that works in the same way. There would most likely be another structure that works almost identically, but with different bases and possibly different amino acids.

Back onto the taxonomy though, the one for the Na'vi hugely annoys me and I really hope it gets changed, because they are clearly not part of the same family as humans, they have entirely separate evolutionary origins.

As for the avatars, there is an enzyme (NVtranscriptase) which is used to create sequences of Na'vi genetic code from human DNA.
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