What is a fossolated weasel?

I had a lovely outing at the American Museum of Natural History today, where I saw some signage that confused me greatly.

The Hall of North American Mammals is one of those amazing museum set-ups that seems like a time wrap. Cases with stuffed dead animals, set up in life-like scenes with pleasant murals of Artic Tundra or the Prairie. Dark, relaxing lighting. Fine old polished wood cases. It seems more like an exhibit about the history of museums than a natural history exhibit. Much of the information on the plaques seems dated, not because it is incorrect, but because it is so quaint and optimistic.

Anyway, the sign by the badger reads “This squat badger is a member of a fossolated weasel family.”

Not in my dictionary, and Google is asking me if I meant “fossil ate weasel.”

Anyone speak Old School Natural History?


“Fossolated” could mean “Fossorial”. Fossorial means burrowing, which badgers do. Fossorial is one of those words that biologists use, like arboreal (living in trees) or cursorial (running around).

Look here


[I tried, but I couldn’t make it work. Sorry]

[Edited by bibliophage on 08-30-2001 at 08:57 AM]

Eh, Kniz, your link gives me a “Page Not Found”. The closest I can get to it, by starting at the home page and working through the click-throughs is this–


–which doesn’t contain anything relevant except a passing mention of the fact that weasels live in Indonesia. So?

Badgers are not members of a weasel family at all. Badgers and weasels are both members of the mustelid family (mustelidae).


And, looking for “fossorial mustelids”:


It sounds to me as though the museum sign was, basically, wrong, in a peculiar sort of way.

  1. A badger is not a member of the weasel family.
  2. There’s no such thing as a “fossolated weasel”.

Wouldn’t “Fossolated Weasel” be a great name for a rock band?

Buck The Diver <—apologies to Dave Barry

Actually, neither kniz’s link nor DDG’s version of it works. Apparently vB split the URL because it was too long and inserted a spurious blank character (band name?). kniz’s link was to the frame that is included in the page that DDG links to.

I won’t bother fixing the links, though, because DDG is right: the page contains no relevant info.

Wait, DDG. The mustelid family is the family of weasels, broadly speaking. It includes weasels, stoats, ferrets, badgers, wolverines, otters, and a bunch of other critters that no one has heard of, like stink badgers, zorillas, and ratels. The Mustelidae are commonly refered to as the “weasel family”, just like Canidae is the dog family, Ursidae is the bear family, Viverridae is the mongoose family, Hyaenidae is the hyaena family, Procyonidae is the racoon family, and Felidae is the cat family. While Mustelidae contains many creatures that wouldn’t be called “weasels” in the vernacular, it is pretty much correct that mustelids=weasels.

Delphica, are you sure the sign didn’t say the badger was a “fossorial weasel”? “Fossorial” wouldn’t mean a family or group of animals, rather it is a descriptive adjective. If scientists weren’t addicted to jargon, they might have said “digging weasel”, rather than “fossorial weasel”.

Yes. Mustella, or some variation of it is the Latin word for “weasel.”

The sign was probably not designed by a naturalist-type person, but some print shop. Something could have easily gotten lost in the translation. It almost sounds like The Kingfish did the sign.:smiley: