Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Misc.: Unused Names

These are names which taxonomists have considered but which have not made it into the scientific literature.

Dermophis donaldtrumpi (caecilian) This amphibian has ruimentary eyes which can only distinguish light and dark, and it habitually buries its head in the ground. This reminded its namer of Trump: "Capable of seeing the world only in black and white, Donald Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese." The building materials company EnviroBuild, owned by Aidan Bell, bought naming rights from the Rainforest Trust for $25,000. The caecilian also has sensory tentacles and an unusual way of feeding its young; Bell sees similarities with the nepotism and web of corruption which Trump has introduced to the White House. He advanced this name "to ensure Mr Trump's presidency is rightfully remembered long after he leaves office." The description and naming of the species, however, still needs to undergo peer review before the name becomes formal.
Heroina cocaina (cichlid) Heroina Kullander 1996 is an existing genus meant to be the feminine form of Heros (another cichlid genus). The type species was found near Coca, Ecuador, but Kullander resisted the temptation to create this combination.
An anthropologist, noting that the group including African apes is named Panini, suggested in jest that the subset of those which have language should be called Linguini.
Mindarus ebayi (fossil aphid) Richard Harrington, of the UK's Royal Entomological Society, bought a fossilised aphid on the web auction site eBay for 20 pounds, found that it belongs to a previously unknown species, and sent it to fossil aphid expert Ole Heie in Denmark. "I had thought it would be rather nice to call it Mindarus ebayi," said Dr Harrington. "Unfortunately, using flippant names to describe new species is rather frowned upon these days." Heie instead named the species after Harrington: Mindarus harringtoni Heie, 2008.
Petrophaga lorioti (stone louse) The German-language medical encyclopedia Pschyrembel Klinisches Wörterbuch describes this creature as a rodent-like mite which can break down bladder and kidney stones. It was created by German humorist Loriot in 1976 in a parody of nature documentaries and was included in Pschyrembel in 1983 as a fictitious entry to detect copyright violations. The entry was omitted from the 257th edition but, due to readers' protests, was reinstated in the 1997 edition, with the entry expanded, among other ways, to speculate about the stone louse's role in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Stone Age.
Rhinogradentia ("snouters") In 1945, German zoologist Gerolf Steiner drew a whimsical creature, a rat that walks on its nose, inspired by poet Christian Morgenstern. This was the first of many rhinogrades he invented which, under the pen name Harald Stümpke, he described with all the scientific trappings in lectures and in his book Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia, which has translated into English as The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades and into other languages. According to Stümpke, a Swede named Einar Pettersson-Skämtkvist discovered these creatures on the Pacific archipelago of Hy-yi-yi in 1941. The species include Hopsorrhinus aureus which bounces on its pogo-stick-like nose, others that walk upside-down on a set of four noses, one (Otopteryx volitans) that flies backwards by flapping its ears and uses its nose as a rudder, and one (Emunctator sorbens) which traps small aquatic animals on its nasal secretions. The list of genera which Stümpke classifies is: Archirrhinos, Cephalanthus, Columnifax, Dulcicauda, Eledonopsis, Emunctator, Enterorrhinus, Hexanthus, Holorrhinus, Hopsorrhinus, Larvanasus, Liliopsis, Mammontops, Mercatorrhinus, Nasobema, Nudirhinus, Orchidiopsis, Otopteryx, Phinochilopus, Phyllohoppla, Remanonasus, Rhinolimacius, Rhinosiphonia, Rhinostentor, Rhinotaenia, Rhinotalpa, Rhizoidonasus, Stella, Tyrannonasus. Two actual species have been named after the Rhinogradentia:
Rhinogradentia steineri Amsel, 1970 (pyralid moth)
Tateomys rhinogradoides Musser, 1969 (Tate's shrew rat)
Smaugia volans This name for a theropod dinosaur that "could have flown" was given in a story from the April 1, 1998 online edition of Nature. It was reportedly discovered by Randy Sepulchrave of the Museum of the University of Southern North Dakota. In reality, Sepulchrave was a character from Mervyn Peake's novel Titus Groan who, believing he was an owl, leapt to his death from a tower; the University of Southern North Dakota exists only in references by Peter Schickele as the site where PDQ Bach's music was first performed; and Smaug was the dragon from Tolkein's The Hobbit.
Utahraptor spielbergi Paleontologist James I. Kirkland, who was working on this dinosaur fossil as Jurassic Park entered pre-production, offered to name it after Steven Spielberg in exchange for fieldwork funding, but his plan fell through, and it became U. ostrommaysorum instead, after John Ostrom of Yale and Chris Mays, president of Dina-ma-tion International.

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