Etymology: Named after Things
Achillesaurus Martinelli and Vera, 2007
(theropod dinosaur from Argentina) named for the Achilles'
heel, because several of the animal's diagnostic features are found in
Aiteng (sea slug) Found in the Gulf of
Thailand, this slug is named after Ai Theng, a puppet in many wayang,
or Thai shadow plays.
Betelgeuse Shaw, 1988 (braconid wasp) Named
after the star in the constellation Orion, because Orion has a sword,
and the female wasp has a conspicuous sword-like
ovipositor. [Psyche 95: 289]
Boreaphilus komsomolkae Shavrin et al, 2000
(Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) Komsomolka is diminutive for Komsomolskaya
Pravda, a famous Russian newspaper. It also qualifies as an acronym,
as Komsomol is an abbreviation of a tripartite term meaning "Communist
Union of Youth"
Ceratoperidinium yeye Margalef, 1969
(dinoflagellate) "Yeye" is the name of a popular 1960s dance in Spain.
This microalga has two expansions suggesting the legs of a girl
Chunia Woodburne and Clemens, 1986 (Australian
Oligocene marsupial) Named after the Chun style of glazed pottery of
the Sung Dynasty of China which, like the teeth of Chunia,
exhibits numerous fine lines.
Cyclocephala rorschachoides Ratcliffe
(scarab) Presumably it has an ink-blot-like pattern on it.
Cypraea isabella Linnaeus 1758 (Isabella's cowrie)
Linnaeus named this parchment-colored, brown-streaked shell after the
color "Isabella." The color was named after Archduchess Isabella of
Austria, who vowed not to change her underwear until her father, Philip
II, won the siege of Ostend. The siege lasted three years.
Diplocriterion yoyo (trace fossil) It loops
up and down.
Galaxias (freshwater fish) The type species,
Galaxias argenteus was so named for the white spotting on its
body like stars in a galaxy.
Golfingia Lankaster, 1885 (Sipunculid) named "in honor
of golf". Reportedly, it was discovered while two professors were
golfing at St. Andrews. A ball was sliced and landed on a beach next to
the unusual animal.
Gordius (horsehair worm) Named after the
famously complex Gordian knot. These worms often twist themselves into
Hallucinochrysa diogenesi Pérez-de la
Fuente et al., 2012 (fossil lacewing) Named after the Diogenes
syndrome, which includes hoarding of garbage, because the fossil larva
was found carrying detritus as camouflage, as many modern lacewing
species do. (The syndrome was misnamed after the ancient Greek Cynic
philosopher Diogenes, who reputedly lived in extreme austerity and did
Hylaeus tetris Dathe, 2000 (bee) Named for
four marks on its scutellum, with reference to the computer
Legionella Brenner et al., 1979 (bacteria)
This bacterium was first identified when an American Legion convention
fell victim to it in Philadelphia in 1976.
Ludodactylus Frey, Martill, and Buchy 2003
(pterosaur) The name means "play pterosaur", in reference to toy models
of Pteranodon which so often were inaccurately made with a beak
of long, sharp teeth. Ludodactylus looks like Pteranodon
but really has such teeth.
Mojoceratops Longrich 2010 (ceratopsid
dinosaur) Named for the heart-shaped frill on its head. A mojo is a
charm or talisman, usually to attract the opposite sex. The name
started as a joke, but it sounded good and fit well, so it stuck.
[J. Paleo. 84: 681]
Orizabus botox Ratcliffe and Cave, 2006
(scarab beetle) The scarab is unusually wrinkle-free as if it had an
injection of botox.
Phagocata flamenca Vila-Farré, Sluys
2011 (planarian) Its undulating sides called to mind the ruffles
of a flamenco dancer's dress. Appropriately, it is found in Granada,
Spain, in the region of Andalucía, home of the flamenco art
form. [Zootaxa 2779: 1]
Phyllidia polkadotsa Brunckhorst, 1993
Pseudatrichia atombomba Kelsey, 1969 (window
fly (Scenopinidae)) Described from Alamagordo, New Mexico.
Stentorceps vuvuzela Nielsen & Buffington,
2011 (figitid wasp) A corniculum on its head is reminiscent of
the vuvuzela, a plastic trumpet made famous at the 2010 World
Cup. [African Entomol. 19: 597]
Typhleotris mararybe Sparks & Chakrabarty,
2012 (blind cave fish) Mararybe is Malagasy for "big
sickness," referring to the "sinkhole fever" illness contracted by the
snorkeling team collecting the fish. [Am. Mus. Nov. 3764]
Atlascopcosaurus loadsi Rich & Vickers-Rich,
1989 (Australian dinosaur) named after the company Atlas Copco,
which provided industrial equipment for the expedition, and for
William Loads, the state manager for Atlas Copco at the time, who also
assisted during the dig.
Dypsis mcdonaldiana Beentje, 1995 (palm from
Madagascar) named for the hamburger company that funded the
Electrolux addisoni Compagno and Heemstra,
2007 (ray) "The name alludes to the well-developed electrogenic
properties of this ray (collectors and photographers have experienced
the shocking personality of this bold, active and brightly patterned
electric ray first-hand), the discovery of which sheds light (Latin,
lux) on the rich and poorly-known fish diversity of the Western Indian
Ocean. And the vigorous sucking action displayed on the videotape of
the feeding ray that was taken by Stephania and Peer Lamberti may
rival a well-known electrical device used to suck the detritus from
carpets, furniture, and other dust-gathering surfaces in modern
homes..." [Smithiana Bulletin]
Ereboporus naturaconservatus K. B. Miller, Gibson
and Alarie, 2009 (blind aquifer beetle) The Nature Conservancy
owns the preserve where it was discovered.
Fedexia Berman et al., 2010 (fossil
amphibian) Named for the FedEx shipping company, which owns the land
the fossil was found on.
Futalognkosaurus dukei Calvo et al., 2007
(Argentinian sauropod) Acknowledging the Duke Energy Corporation, a
sponsor of the excavation. (The genus means "giant chief of the
dinosaurs" in the Mapuche language.)
Gasosaurus constructus Dong & Tang, 1985
(Jurassic theropod) Named for the Dashanpu natural gas mining company
(in China), whose construction uncovered it.
Habronestes boq Baehr, 2008 (spider) When
the Queensland Museum held a fundraising initiative to sell naming
rights for a limited number of Australian spiders, the first to sign
up was David Liddy, Managing Director at the Bank of Queensland, hence
Krakatauia planticorum 2004
Named after Plantic Technologies, which won naming rights as part of the
Australian Museum Eureka
, for developing a biodegradable plastic.
Oxybelus cocacolae Verhoeff (sphecid
Panamericansaurus Calvo & Porfiri, 2010
(Late Cretaceous sauropod) The Pan American Energy company supported
the dig financially.
Proceratium google Fisher, 2005 (ant from
Madagascar) Named after the internet search engine company in hopes that
it will cooperate on a database of all animal life. "Like Google, the
ant is really good at finding obscure prey."
Roberthoffstetteria nationalgeographica Marshall,
de Muizon & Sige, 1993 (Paleocene mammal) National Geographic
probably bankrolled the expedition which found this animal. (Robert
Hoffstetter is a paleontologist.)
Arsipoda geographica Gómez-Zurita,
2010 (flea beetle) Also named for the National Geographic
Society, which funded the study.
Leaellynasaura amicagraphica Rich & Rich,
1989 (Cretaceous dinosaur). "The specific name L. amicagraphica
translates to "friend writing" and honours both the Friends of the
Museum of Victoria and the National Geographic Society for their
support of Australian paleontology"
Simiolus enjiesi Leakey & Leakey, 1987
(Kenyan Miocene ape) "The species epithet is a phonetic pun on the
acronym NGS (National Geographic Society.)"
The NGS says there are also several orchid species, a fish, a sea flea,
and a laughing thrush named after it, but I have not found their
Roombia Okamoto et al., 2009
(katablepharid, a single-celled flagellate eukaryote) "Named after
Roomba(TM), a robotic vacuum cleaner (iRobot, MA) to describe its
gliding motion on the surface and active feeding behavior." [PLoS ONE
Scissurella alto Geiger, 2003 Named for the
Alto, the first personal computer, in honor of its developers at Xerox
PARC and in recognition of the importance of personal computers in
Sinopoda scurion Jager, 1999 (eyeless
huntsman spider) The spider was discovered in a Laotian cave and named
for the Swiss company Scurion, which makes headlamps for
Bicentenaria argentina Novas et al. 2012
(coelurosaur) named for the bicentennial of Argentina's autonomous
Mantis religiosa Linnaeus, 1758 (praying
Myrmeciza immaculata concepcion Donegan,
2012 (antbird) [Colombia. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 132:
Parnassius apollo antijesuita Bryk
(butterfly) Swedish researcher Felix Bryk gave this name to ridicule
the Catholic Church. The insect, which Bryk made speak for itself,
ended its description saying (translated from Spanish), "Allow me
willingly to take the name of anti-Jesuit in protest against the
immorality of those clerical governments in Europe that put up
obstacles to progress and let our great Catalan freedom fighter be
treacherously shot [freethinker and anarchist Francesc Ferrer i
Guardia, executed in Barcelona in 1909]. I know that it is not
desirable to intrude policy into nomenclature; but before me, my
Russian countryman has expressed his opinion democrática
Krul.)..." [Published in
de la Sociedad Aragonesa de Ciencias Naturales (XI, 1912)
Bryk also gave a politial name to subspecies
Parnassius (Driopa) mnemosyne republicanus
Peebles & Bryk
. Both subspecies names are synonyms and thus
Presbyornis Wetmore, 1926 (fossil bird)
The name refers to Presbyterians.
Pterostichus mujahedeeni Savich, 1999 and
P. talibani Savich, 1999 (ground beetles)
both from Afghanistan.
Rasta J.D. Taylor & Glover, 2000 (clam)
Named after the Rastafari movement because the clam appears to have
Saturnalia Langer et al., 1999 (prosauropod
dinosaur) Named for the Roman winter solstice festival.
Sorex shinto Thomas, 1905 (Shinto
Strategus mormon Burmeister (scarab)
Tabanus yuleanus Philip, 1950 (horse fly) Named in honor
of a memorable Christmas day in 1946.
Zen Jordan, 1903 (dory fish)
Adelina bacardi Steiner, 2006 (darkling
beetle) The beetle is the same color as the amber-brown Bacardi rum,
and the Bacardi family has contributed significantly to natural
resource conservation. [Zootaxa 1158: 17.]
Agave tequilana Weber (blue agave) from which
tequila is made.
Artemesia absinthium (wormwood) from which
absinthe is distilled.
Atropa belladonna L. (deadly nightshade)
Named for the drug's effect: Belladonna means "beautiful
lady". Ladies once used it to make their pupils dilate, giving their
faces a fetching look (and probably causing distressful
Blapstinus kalik Steiner, 2006 (darkling
beetle) The beetle's aedeagus resembles a bottle opener, and Kalik is
the national beer of the Bahamas (the species' home). [Zootaxa
Coffea (coffee tree)
Cuttysarkus Estes, 1964 (fossil salamander)
probably after a brand of whiskey. Synonymized with
Ilex vomitoria Sol. ex Aiton (holly) So
named because pre-Columbian natives from the regions of the
southeastern U.S. used a drink made from the leaves and bark of this
plant in a vomit-inducing purification ritual.
La cerveza Landry (pyralid moth)
Pseudophoenux vinifera (Buccaneer palm from
Hispaniola) Wine can be brewed from its sap.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewers yeast)
"Sugar-eating fungus of beer."
Schizosaccharomyces pombe (yeast) Isolated
from an East African beer. "Pombe" is the Swahili word for
Scoterpes jackdanieli Shear 2010
(millipede) It was discovered in caves on the grounds of a Jack
Daniel's whiskey distillery in Tennessee. "I was hoping to get a free
case of bourbon," Shear said, "but they never responded."
[Zootaxa 2385: 58]
Strychnos nux-vomica (Southeast Asian tree)
Its seeds are the source of strychnine, brucine, and the bitter emetic
Tastavinsaurus Canudo et al. 2008
(sauropod) Literally, "wine-tasting lizard", but it was named after
the Tastavin River in Catalan, Spain, where it was
discovered. [J. Vert. Paleo. 28: 712]
Zoogonecticus tequila (goodeid fish)
Alvinocaris Williams and Chace, 1982,
Mirocaris Vereshchaka, 1997,
Nautilocaris Komai and Segonzac, 2004, and
Shinkaicaris Komai and Segonzac, 2005
(shrimp). There are just a few manned submersibles used for deep-ocean
(>4000 m) scientific research: Alvin (USA), Mir-1 and Mir-2 (Russia),
Nautil (France), and Shinkai-6500 (Japan). They are used, among other
things, to explore deep-water hydrothermal vents, which often have
endemic shrimp species. There is now a shrimp named for each
submersible. [J. Crust. Biol. 2: 136;
J. Mar. Biol. Ass. UK 77: 425; 84: 1179; J. Nat. Hist.
Alvinella Desbruyeres and Laubier 1979 and
Paralvinella Desbruyeres and Laubier 1982
(polychaete tube-worms). The latter genus has seven species in three
Paralvinella, Miralvinella and
Together, these make up the family
Bacillus odysseyi La Duc, Satomi &
Venkateswaran, 2004 (bacillus) isolated from the surface of the
Mars Odyssey orbiter (before it left Earth).
Bucephalus (snake) or
Bucephalus (trematode). "Bucephalus" is
also the name of Alexander the Great's horse. I am guessing that all
three derive from a common etymology ("ox head") rather than the
genera being named after the horse. I do not know which name has
Discoverichthys (deep-sea fish)
Frencrinuroides edseli Edgecombe et al., 1998
Halomonas titanicae Sánchez-Porro, Kaur,
Mann, and Ventosa 2010 (bacterium) Discovered in "rusticles"
from the wreck of the RMS Titanic.
Heterocricetodon landroveri Daams et al.,
1989 (Oligocene rodent) "In honour of our Landrovers, that
fortunately did not break down the day we collected the sample at
Pareja." [Scripta Geol. 89: 43]
M. kayakifolia, and
M. tabula-fluctivagifolia J.R. Grant, 2004
(Peruvian trees, Gentianaceae) Named, respectively, for leaves shaped
like canoe, kayak, and surfboard (from "tabula", board +
Scrophularia landroveri Wendelbo (figwort)
"Named in honour of our trusty Landrover that suffered so much in the
cause of botany during our collecting in Afghanistan. The new species
is inconspicuous due to the greyish green colours of all its parts ---
a colour it shares with the Landrover." The name, however, is
Qantas Novikov, 2012 (Triassic reptile)
Quantas Airlines supported the original study.
Qantassaurus Rich & Vickers-Rich, 1999
(Ornithopod dinosaur) Named after Qantas Airlines.
Sorolopha bruneiregalis Tuck & Robinson, 1994 (tortricid
moth) after Royal Brunei Airlines.
Stenotabanus sputnikulus Philip, 1958 (horse fly) Named
"in commemoration of the launching of the first man-made earth
satellite, while this species was being described. The fly also
undoubtedly buzzes about the earth, even though in a much more
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