We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

The Top 10 Top 10s of 2019

3 6 0

Thanks to all who have contributed to the Top 10s that have appeared every weekend in The Independent on Sunday and on The Independent website since the Top 10 Worst Beatles Songs in 2013. The 2014 book, Listellany: a Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, from Politics to Pop, is still available if you know where to look.

Here are 10 of my favourites from this year.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

1. Plaice. In first plaice: young flounders are symmetrical but as they spend more time on the sea bed one eye grows round to the side that faces upwards.

2. Wrybill. A species of New Zealand plover with its beak curved to the right.

3. Fiddler crab, whose single large pincer can be wider than its body.

4. Narwhal has a helical tusk on its upper left jaw. As we discovered in November, there was one on the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

5. Sperm whale has a single nostril on the upper left of its head, its blowhole, while the right nostril has evolved to form a phonic lip, which makes sounds to communicate.

6. Honey badgers of the subspecies signata have a second lower molar on the left side of their jaws, but not the right.

7. Snails. And all other gastropods. Snails’ shells spiral either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

8. Iwasaki’s snail-eater snake. Asymmetry passed from prey to predator. It has asymmetric jaws, which makes it easier to eat snails with dextral (clockwise coiled) shells.

9. Cock-eyed squid. The right eye is round, blue and sunken; the left eye is at least twice the diameter, yellow-green, faces upward, and bulges out of the head.

10. Perissodus microlepis: species of scale-eating cichlid fish found in Lake Tanganyika. About half the population has jaws twisted to the left, making it easier to eat scales on its victim’s right flank. The other morph has jaws twisted to the right. The abundance of each morph is regulated by “frequency-dependent selection”.

1. You Are My God, David Watson.

2. Name Your Child Eric Partridge.

3. How to Eat Nigella Lawson.

4. Lister The Paintings of Samuel Palmer. (It’s not a list.)

5. Slaughter Living Things. Biology textbook.

6. Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell.

7. Fall Out,........

© Independent