Taxonomy Anomaly In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg tells contestants a bizarrely named animal, and they have to guess what kind of animal it actually is.

Taxonomy Anomaly

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Now we'll play a guessing game called Taxonomy Anomaly. But first let's check in with our contestants. Angeline Rodriguez, you studied linguistics.


EISENBERG: And you have a superpower.

RODRIGUEZ: I would say, like, within, like, 99.9 percent accuracy, I can guess the word that people are, like, trying to, like, work their way up to on the tip of their tongue.

EISENBERG: How? How do you do this?

RODRIGUEZ: Magic, I don't know, too much time on the Internet - one of those.

EISENBERG: OK, but - so if I'm talking to you and I'm reaching for a word, you'll be able to tell me what it is?

RODRIGUEZ: Hopefully.

EISENBERG: Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, that's just...

RODRIGUEZ: I mean, you might be the .01. I'm just trying to hedge my bets here.

EISENBERG: I feel like I'm talking to Nate Silver over here.


EISENBERG: All right, most of the time you get it right

RODRIGUEZ: Most of the time.

EISENBERG: OK, is there any commonality between the kind of words people are always trying to find?

RODRIGUEZ: It's usually one of those SAT words...


RODRIGUEZ: ...That some high school teacher told you you should learn. So it's often - like, sounds like another word but you misuse, like prudent and repugnant, right?

EISENBERG: Right, that's a perfect example...

RODRIGUEZ: Word families.

EISENBERG: Kate Fisher, I think everyone has a great story about, like, friends they met on a vacation. But I feel like you have taken it up a notch with your story.

KATE FISHER: Yes, I accidentally made friends with RoboCop on the Amalfi Coast.


EISENBERG: Are you still friends?


EISENBERG: What happened?

FISHER: We stupidly did not - we didn't know who he was at the time. He was just some man, Peter Weller, talking about his Ph.D. and his dissertation adviser. And we thought, oh, he's interesting. And he and his wife invited us, my family and I, to Venice for New Years. And we're like, well, that was weird. And then we went home and Googled him and we were like, oh.


EISENBERG: Did you go to Venice for New Years?


EISENBERG: What are you doing?

FISHER: I blame my parents. It's, like, what I do 99 percent of the...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

FISHER: Ninety-nine point nine percent out of time.

EISENBERG: Percent of the time.


EISENBERG: All right, so we're going to play a guessing game called Taxonomy Anomaly. I'm going to give you the name of an animal. All you have to do is tell me what kind of animal it is. And we're going to alternate back and forth so no need to buzz in. Angeline, you won the last game so win this and you're going to the Final Round. Kate, you need to win this or you have to sit through Art Chung's sustainable taxidermy workshop.


EISENBERG: It's a two-week intensive.


FISHER: Fantastic.

EISENBERG: OK. Here we go. Angeline, the mountain chicken, is it a chicken, a goat or a frog?

RODRIGUEZ: I want to say a frog.

EISENBERG: It is a frog, yes.


EISENBERG: It's one of the largest frogs in the world, but it tastes like chicken.


EISENBERG: That is a fact. Kate, the chicken turtle, is it a chicken, a turtle or a sloth?

FISHER: Turtle?

EISENBERG: Yes, it is a turtle.


EISENBERG: But it also tastes like chicken.


EISENBERG: Angeline, the hummingbird hawk moth, is it a hummingbird, a hawk or a moth?


RODRIGUEZ: This has to be a moth.

EISENBERG: Yeah, it's a moth.

RODRIGUEZ: It's a terrifying - yeah.




RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I've had some nightmares about that one.

EISENBERG: Yeah, right. Yeah, it's a moth that tells powerful stories 5 to 10 minutes long.


RODRIGUEZ: Your story was so good last week.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Kate, the hellbender, is it a salamander, a wolf or a vulture? (Laughter) the hellbender.

FISHER: Salamander.

EISENBERG: Yes, it is a salamander.


EISENBERG: Yeah. Angeline, the aardwolf, is it an aardvark, a wolf or a hyena?


EISENBERG: Yes, it's a hyena.



EISENBERG: Kate, the peacock mantis shrimp.

FISHER: It's not a real thing, is it?

EISENBERG: Oh it's real, but is it a peacock, a praying mantis or a shrimp.

FISHER: Shrimp.

EISENBERG: It is a shrimp.


EISENBERG: That makes the most disgusting shrimp cocktail.

JONATHAN COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah, it's very - you've got to eat around a lot of stuff to get to the shrimp.


EISENBERG: Exactly, the peacock and the mantis. They - actually, they can punch with the speed equal to a 22-caliber bullet.

COULTON: This cannot possibly be a real animal.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) It's real.

FISHER: It's more like a head-butt.

EISENBERG: Angeline, the Japanese spider crab, is it a spider, a crab or an octopus?

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, this is definitely a crab.

EISENBERG: It is definitely a crab.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, yeah.

EISENBERG: The world's biggest crab.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, I specialize in terrifying arthropods.


RODRIGUEZ: Yeah - not really but in my nightmares.


EISENBERG: And that's one of them that comes after you, the spider crab?

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Kate, the panda ant, is it a panda, an ant or a wasp?


EISENBERG: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. Angeline, can you steal?


EISENBERG: It is a panda. No, it's a wasp.


EISENBERG: It is a wasp. It is a wasp.


EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

ART CHUNG: They both did great. I'm afraid we'll have to say goodbye to Kate. But congratulations, Angeline, you're moving on to the Final Round.


EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll find out who will face off against Angeline in our Final Round at the end of the show. And "As You Wish" actor Cary Elwes will pick his poison in a battle of wits. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and you're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

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