A parliament of burrowing owls in Florida. (Photo: Tania Thomson/Shutterstock)
From social butterflies to solitary scavengers, virtually all animals gather into groups at some point in their lives. Herd immunity is one reason, since packs of prey are harder to attack, but many animals also use collective wisdom to make better decisions. Some even blur the line between individual and group, while others limit social time to mating season.
Regardless of what draws them together, something odd tends to happen when creatures form crowds: They're suddenly known by bizarre, often silly names. These group nouns are rarely used, even by scientists, but they nonetheless represent our own species' collective creativity for linguistics — not to mention our deep-rooted affinity for nature.
Taking the time to name a "richness of martens" or a "murmuration of starlings," for example, suggests a basic lack of contempt for the wildlife in question. Even our more derogatory labels, like an "obstinancy of buffalo" or an "unkindness of ravens," reveal a certain respect for the nonhuman neighbors that share our environment.
Without further ado, here are 99 of the strangest collective names we've given to animals: