Status is perhaps best defined by the number of persons who want to be your friend even though you don't like them. So, although I had long respected biologist Julian Kenny, I didn't know he was a great man until he passed away and I saw the number of people singing his praises once there was no danger he would point out their false notes. One individual described him as a "messiah", although Kenny was both an atheist and a democrat. Another person said he was a gift from God, so I hope s/he'll hope that Maha Sabha leader Sat Maharaj goes to Heaven when he dies. And a former talk show host, who regularly blared false information about the health effects of smelters and who continued the habit by misleading Parliament when he became a Government Minister, praised Kenny for his integrity.
As a field naturalist, Prof Kenny must have made a study of these strange fauna. But did he record his findings? I am not sure, but a careful reading of his book, View from the Bridge, which is a memoir on the freshwater fishes of Trinidad, suggests that he did. Of course, being the gentleman he was, Prof Kenny coded his research in scientific language. For the benefit of laypersons, I have reproduced his data in a more accessible (but still accurate) form.
Hypocritic politicus. Bearing a strong resemblance, both physically and psychologically, to the paradox frog (Pseudis paradoxus), this creature (Pseudis luna) is notable for its forked tongue, which makes a set with the knife it uses to stab people like Prof Kenny in the back. One of the first organisms to express shock at his death, claiming that "His work and advice will continue to inspire us", pseudis luna omits to mention that it was responsible for Kenny resigning from the board of the Environmental Management Authority (Pareo rector) when it failed to rescind an amendment to the quarrying law. Despite years of study, both biologists and political scientists have been unable to figure out if such paradoxical statements are due to deception or a neurological defect that infects the organism when it becomes a Minister (Homo incompetentus).
UNC fanaticus. This species actually includes several genus, related to Gobioesox nudus, or clingfish, which survive by holding on to their mothers, religion, and rum bottles. The more aggressive members belong to gymnotidae, which Prof Kenny describes as "generally bottom feeding, but will rise to the surface to take prey".
Politicus ethnic. Although merely noxious in its natural Indian habitat, this species can become quite venomous when put into unfamiliar surroundings, such as ministerial office. A close relative of the cutlass fish (Gymnotus carapo), the creature is highly aggressive and usually tries to cut other organisms down, especially those with genuine academic qualifications. It communicates by using rhythmic vibrations and puffs of air which, when combined, create a series of sounds classified by zoologists as lies.
PNM dum mortuus. This species believes it has a God-given right to dominate other phyla, whether it is qualified to do so or not. Indeed, some members even go so far to claim that, precisely because their species lacks the necessary survival skills for a modern environment, they should be placed in resource-rich habitats so they won't have to work for a living.
Falsus brahminis. This species spends most of its life cycle trying to deny that its ancestors came from the lower taxonomies. Brought to Trinidad on boats (Jahaji bundleus), the organism quickly adapted to the shortage of Indian females (Obedientus beatus) by abandoning caste requirements and using a cutlass as its mating strategy. It is known for rejecting any progeny which marries outside the species (Dougla libere) and can be identified by two distinct protrusions, proboscis and abdominis.
Tilapia servitus. This African cichlid (Oreochromis mossambicus) was first brought to Trinidad against its will, and forcibly bred in farms in order to feed white people. First called Ikan Moedjair, the tilapia was even deprived of its African name until restored to dignity by the Emancipation Support Committee (Africanus dementia populus).
Carpo arboreal bardus. Usually found in the backwaters of academia when it's not hugging trees, this organism believes that everything American is evil, although it still goes Miami to shop. The creature thus argues that Osama bin Laden (Specus terroristus) was only fighting for his "Islamic space" when he arranged to kill 3,000 Americans, but that Barack Obama (niger niveus) is a-murderer for ordering bin Laden's assassination. A related genus, Non quin percent, may be found every three years on the streets of Trinidad, preferring to inhabit the pavement outside Government buildings, where they make loud sounds whose meaning naturalists, linguists, and chief personnel officers have been unable to figure out. Taxonomically, the two classes of organisms are part of the phylum Homo marxist, which has the curious attribute of being almost extinct but remaining completely unaware of the fact.
The following was published in The Daily Express on 19th August 2011. Republished here with permission from the author.