Joanna here, delving into the nitty gritty of the past. Asking myself what would be familiar to a time traveller dipping into history? What would be stunningly weird?
What I’m pondering today is pigeons.
Like, “What is a pigeon and why isn’t it a dove?” and vice versa.
One of those cases we have two words for the same thing, really. Kind of comforting to know we're stocked up with synonyms.
Background: There are 344 species in the Columbidae family worldwide. They're called pigeon or dove more or less at random. Whenever you think you’ve got some difference nailed down – like pigeons are larger and plumper – you’ll come across some tiny bitty twittering bird in the Far East that’s called a pigeon and category common sense goes flying out the window.
In other zoological news, pigeons are most closely related to cuckoos. Many of us have this problem.