The PhylaRap

Last week I was asked to do a Museums Showoff set and I’d been tweeting about a Phyla Rap I’d been writing on the bus to pass the time. Museums Showoff if you don’t know, is an open mic night for people who work in and love museums to shout about what they do. I decided that agreeing to do a set would prompt me to write a bit more of the Phyla Rap and perform it for the first time.

Combining the misogyny of popular music and the principles of Linnean taxonomy, it went down surprisingly well and hopefully some of the audience learned a little bit about taxonomy and animal groups off the beaten track. I reproduce it in full here, but bear in mind that a) This is a performance meant for a room full of people that had been drinking for some hours and b) Is supported by hilarious visuals which I haven’t reproduced all of here c) It’s about a third done so apologies if your favourite group isn’t in there.

So. Linnean taxonomy and animal phyla. Wrote a song about. Wanna hear it? Here it goes.

Cladistics are sadistic
Genetics ain’t great either
Sticking with my man Linnaeus
And the 30 something phyla*

The simplest kind of animal
Look over there it’s Grover
One species, amoebalike thing
It’s phylum placozoa

Phyla rap 1

Worry if you are an octopus
And I ain’t even kidding ya
Talking about rhombozoa**
Cos they live in your nephridia

I was in the club last night
dancing on the podium
Orthonectida are parasites
With a synctial plasmodium

I met this girl, she’s scorching hot
I’m making my way over
Roundworms coming out a butt
It’s phylum Nematoda

Wow you’re looking so damn fine
I’m gonna take your number
Echinoderms are sea urchins
Also sea cucumbers

I think I really love you girl
I’ll take you out to dinner
Priapulids are penis worms
They look like mine but thinner

Damn you got me blushing here
I wanna get to know ya
Insects, crabs and trilobites
It’s phylum Arthropoda

I think I’ve got a nosebleed now
I found this with my notepads
Oh no it’s an aceolomorph
They have no gut or gonads

Phyla rap 2

A player is a player girl
So quit it with your moaning
Phoronida are horseshoe worms
Their blood has haemoglobin

A pedicle and brachial valve
These shelled guys are so hot
It’s phylum brachiopoda
Like a bivalve, kinda not

Okay that’s it my time is up
This rap is almost over
There’s one more group, may not exist
It’s monoblastozoa

*At which stage I pointed out that I know Linnaeus didn’t coin phyla but Haeckel only has two syllables and I needed three.

** Again, artistic demand required rhombozoa over dicyemida because the latter is tricky to say let alone rap.

One thought on “The PhylaRap

  1. Love it! One of the Bristol postgrads did a great vertebrate palaeo song at SVPCA a couple of years ago. It may be on YouTube somewhere.


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