Xtolocaturday

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April 9 2011 7:10 AM

Xtolocaturday

I took a family vacation recently (as those who follow me on Twitter already know; see also here, and here). I haven't talked about it at all, but we were visiting friends in Mexico. We took a day to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza -- the day after the Equinox, thankfully; it's massively crowded there due to a light show on the Temple of Kukulkan, the great ziggurat there -- and it was spectacular. I promise I will write about that at some point, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

But in the meantime, since it's Caturday, and I've chosen to expand that to any animal, here is a little fella we saw while we were there:

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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[Click to iguananate.]

We actually saw dozens of iguanas, and my brother-in-law Chris took lots of excellent pictures of them (like this one, too).

We learned the Mayan word for iguana is xtoloc, pronounced SHTO-lok. This is my new favorite word in the whole world (ironically, taking the spot previously held by "Quetzlcoatl"). Whenever we see a lizard on TV, I turn to The Little Astronomer and say, knowingly, "Xtoloc", and it always gets a smile from her.

If I ever write a Star Trek story, I will name a Vulcan character Xtoloc.

I actually learned many Mayan words while down there, and it's just about the coolest spoken language I've ever heard. Plus, they start lots of words with X, which is really just inherently cool as well.



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