Monday, March 17, 2008

Taxonomy and Ursula the Sea Witch

In what can only be the spiritual follow-up to the post expressing my marvelation at Wikipedia's logic in centaur classification, I'm writing this to note that the official term for a half-human, half octopus creature — an entity most would just term "octo-mermaid," I'd imagine — is "Cecaelia." Sucks for girls named "Cecilia," I suppose, but good to know that the term exists, in case I ever need to identify one for a news article. Thankfully, Wikipedia as of now lacks the page "List of notable Cecaelia," but rest assured someone, somewhere is working on it.


Remember: It's not "octo-mermaid." It's "Cecaelia." Even when it's a boy, apparently. "Cecil"?

9 comments:

  1. Cecil. The perfect name for an octo-man, or for a child you want to ensure will be a skipping, dandylion-blowing, plaid-cropped-pant -wearing sissy.

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  2. wikipedia doesn't actually explain where the word cecaelia comes from, unless I'm missing it.

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  3. Anonymous10:47 AM

    You've repeated a common misconception about Ursula. She's half-squid, not half-octopus. Count her tentacles.

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    1. Anonymous11:55 AM

      What you refer to as tentacles are in fact, in biology, simply "arms." Octopus have eight arms, and squid have eight arms and two tentacles. Tentacles are the longer appendages that fan out at the end, not the prehensile, boneless appendages with suckers on them that most people think of when they hear the word tentacle.

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  4. B: I'm sure there's been a few Cecils who have grown up to exhibit appropriately manly qualities.

    Goofy: No clue where the term comes from. If I remember correctly, it was coined from a short story someone and grew in popularity only because it was the first instance of someone calling a half-human, half-octopus monster anything but just that.

    Anonymous: You're right. Damn. Six, not eight. Says Wikipedia: "Ursula is only drawn with six tentacles (in most scenes), due to the studio's budget and difficulty in coordinating eight tentacles." Who wants to be the first to coin a term for a half-human, half-squid, mermaid-like creature. Can I call it a drusilla?

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  5. No, Mr Mackie, i am ever so afraid you cannot. According to said Wikipedia article, cecaelia covers both half human/half octopus & half human/squid:
    "A cecaelia (pronounced /sɨˈseɪliə/ sə-SAY-lee-ə; unrelated to Cecilia or caecilian) is a composite mythical being, appearing occasionally in art (notably from Japan), literature, and multimedia; combining the head, arms and torso of a woman (more rarely a man) and, from the lower torso down, the tentacles of an octopus or squid as a form of mermaid or sea demon."

    As for the origin of the term cecaelia, the Wikipedia article offers a hypothesis:
    "The term derives primarily from the distorted mispronounced name of a character/story title from a black-and-white comic in Vampirella Magazine featured in the early 1970s which shows a woman/octopus hybrid character called "Cilia"[citation needed]."

    Said Wikipedia article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecaelia

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  6. My spelling was off tonight, but your blog reminded me of:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caecilian
    and also Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0lq5moG3sE&feature=related

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    1. Dude. That's it. I know I am replying to this more than a year late, but I'm sure that's where the creature got its name. God bless you, Cecil the Seasick Serpent for affecting pop culture long after your heyday.

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