After scientists confirmed that mermaids—mythical creatures who are part-human and part-fish—are actually mammals, another organism has also been given a new classification: almonds.
Now belonging under Class Mammalia, these nuts were reclassified by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), a partnership of American agencies that aim to provide information on the taxonomy or classification of biological species. This development did not come as a surprise to Biology Department Full Professor Dr. Wilfredo Licuanan. “It’s been a long time coming; I’m ‘nut’ surprised,” he comments.
Tracing the change
According to the International Journal of Taxonomy, a mammal should possess the following characteristics: undercoat and guard hair for protection, jaw and ear bones for strength, a four-chambered heart for blood flow, a diaphragm for singing, complex brain functions for Mathematics, a spinal column for support, limbs for traveling, and mammary glands for the full mammal experience.
Despite failing to meet most of these criteria and supposedly invalidating the almond’s acceptability as a mammal, Licuanan defends ITIS’ reclassification. “It’s the milk,” he says. “Almond milk is the best evidence that almonds are mammals. Only mammals can produce milk, and almonds do.” He then explains that mammary glands are modified sweat glands for producing milk—almond milk in this case—which is consumed by the mammal’s offspring.
“Regardless of how visible or undetectable these glands are, the fact that almond milk is produced—and even consumed in Starbucks drinks and sold at 7-Eleven stores—and is linked to its ‘mammality’ is a great leap for mankind,” the scientist reiterates.
In an interview with The LuhSallian, ITIS Publicity Director Kathyayini Dela Cruz explains that the reclassification was inevitable, citing how Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution—the mechanism of how species and Pokemon evolve and become stronger—is the guiding principle for the taxonomic classification of all of Earth’s organisms based on changes in their genes.
The organism is first given a binomial name, which is composed of the genus and the species. Once two highly genetically similar species are identified, they are classified under the same genus. Similar genera make up a family, which are then classified into orders, then into classes, into phyla or divisions, further into kingdoms, and finally domains.
To reflect the reclassification of an almond, its new but temporary binomial name is Mamamou amygdalus. “It belongs to a temporary genus because of its uniqueness and other special considerations. At first we questioned our own decisions, but we know this is for the best,” affirms Dela Cruz.
Supporting Licuanan and Dela Cruz’s sentiments, University Zoologist and Veterinarian Dr. Laureen Velasco points out that the name of the previously-classified nut heavily hints that it should “at least be considered an animal”. “The words ‘almond’ and ‘animal’ have four letters in common. I don’t think that that’s a mere coincidence,” expresses Velasco.
She furthers that critics of Science and of ITIS should not question its “almond-ness”, citing that it already is a matter linked with the philosophical theory of existentialism—which is centered on “the analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable Universe and [on] the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without certain knowledge of what is right or wrong, or good or bad.”
From the cannibals
Although a relatively new finding, news has spread quickly, reaching as far as Taft Ave. After hearing the news on the nut’s reclassification, several Lasallians pointed out that instead of consuming almond milk, they are shifting to soy milk to avoid being labeled as “mammalian cannibals”.
For Geesus Krays (VIII, CAM-ADV), it was a “horrific” situation to deal with. “I am a vegan kase for a reason; I take into consideration ‘yung welfare ng animals,” he proclaims proudly. “After the news broke and I found out na I’m a mammalian cannibal pala for having the produce of a fellow mammal in my usual Starbs drink, nagwala ako.”
(I became hysterical.)
A similar sentiment was shared by Won Chao Sun (I, ECE2), who says that he could never see almonds the same way again. “Especially when they’re female almonds, I have to be careful because they might be pregnant na pala. Pero solid because we are learning more about nuts,” expresses Sun.
In pursuit of establishing new, more correct classifications of other nuts, Dela Cruz hints at future research endeavors, “The ITIS is currently checking if walnuts, peanuts, pecans—and even coconuts—have historic linkages that are worth looking into. However, we won’t just be looking at nuts; nature is full of other organisms and species that may be worth investigating, too.”