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July 7, 2008

Five Frog Species Await Your Naming - For a Price

frogs.pngThere are five new frog species whose names are up for auction by TV personality Jeff Corwin and Amphibian Ark.

This promotion is designed to draw attention to the fact that of the approximately 6,100 amphibian species on the planet, some 2,600 are declining in number. The highest bidder will be able to name a "walking frog," which is "a newly discovered species in the genus Osornophryne."

Financing conservation by selling naming rights is becoming a popular way to raise money and since there are so many species of insects, amphibians and fishes that have yet to be named, it's a great idea.

Plus, it's worth big bucks: One butterfly name recently went for $40,800 and a monkey name, Monkey, went for $650,000.

There is, however, some criticism around selling sea slug naming rights for $15,000 or auctioning names for a hydrothermal vent worm for $50,000. It all just seems so unscientific.

One mail room supervisor at the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia had a catfish species named after him as a retirement gift, while a kind hearted math teacher in San Diego named Jeff Goodhatz paid $5,000 to have a sea worm named after himself (goodhartzorum).

yeti.pngYes, there is some risk that some avid namer will actually make up a new species just to score naming rights, but it's not likely. The Census of Marine life is busy adding 1,400 new species each year to its lists, including the recently discovered, scarily hairy but reassuringly small "yeti crab."

Comedian Stephen Colbert and musician Neil Young each have trapdoor spiders named after them by East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond, who also named an arachnid in honor of Nelson Mandela.

That's all great, but not all creepy crawlies are created equal. Adolf Hitler has a blind cave beetle named after him, similarly to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield, who have all unwillingly lent their names to beetles, as have Darth Vader and Pocahontas.

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Posted by William Lozito at July 7, 2008 8:56 AM
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