Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

 
According to dictionary.com bombinate is a verb that means "to make a humming or buzzing noise." Merriam-Webster.com cites that the word originally comes from the Greek word bombos, which likely denoted "an imitation of a deep, hollow sound (the kind we would likely refer to as "booming" nowadays)." Latin speakers changed the Greek root to bombus, which is the root for a number of English words including "bomb," "bombard," and "bound."

There are quite a few creatures that bombinate—flies, wasps, beetles, humming birds—but when I think of buzzing, I mostly think of bees. Learning the word sparked my curiosity—I wondered why bees buzz. Surely there must be some reason or purpose. Someone recently pointed out to me that animals are like superheroes—they have unique abilities to function in seemingly magical ways that allow them to survive and thrive. Is the buzzing just a result of their wings beating so fast? According to scientificamerican.com, yes, their wings beating rapidly causes the vibrations that we hear. However, there's another more superpower-like purpose to the bombinating.

Bumblebees, whose genus is actually Bombus, vibrate the middle segment of their body (their thorax) in addition to their wings when they visit flowers. A bumblebee's vibrations shake the pollen from a bloom onto its body. When the bee flies to another flower, some of the pollen rubs off onto the next bloom and voilà, pollination. Bees' ability to bombinate is one of those superpower qualities! (However, not all bee species are capable of buzz-pollination.)

I love noticing flowers and trees when I walk or run. The picture above was taken during a stroll through Forest Park in St. Louis, which has plenty of natural areas, well-maintained gardens, and animals with superpowers—thank you @forestparkforever for your work caring for such a beautiful place.

Each week I share a word that appeals to the senses or describes sensory experiences. If you have a suggestion for a Sensory Word of the Week, please let me know.

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