Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Etymology: Acronyms

Adlafia G. Moser, H. Lange-Bertalot & D. Metzeltin 1998 (diatom) for the Association des Diatomistes de Langue Française (A.D.La.F.)
Afgekia Craib. (Fabaceae from southeast Asia) Named for the collector Arthur Francis George Kerr.
Afipia (bacterium) after AFIP: Armed Force Institute of Pathology.
Afropolonia tgifi Goff, 1983 (chigger) from "Thank God it's Friday"
Agra bci Erwin, 2000 (ground beetle) from "Barro Colorado Island" (Panama), where the beetle was discovered.
Agra catie Erwin, 2002 (carabid) for Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza, a forestry school at Turrialba.
Amargatitanis macni Apesteguía, 2007 (titanosaur) The specific epithet honors the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales (MACN). [Cretaceous Res. 12: 533]
Aphandra (palm) A partial acronym from the palm genera Ammandra and Phytelephas, plus -andra (male, referring to the stamens) because the stamens are intermediate between those of Ammandra and Phytelephas.
Atalodera ucri (nematode) for University of California, Riverside.
Atelopus farci Lynch (toad) Named after FARC, the Colombian guerilla army, which used to be active in the toad's habitat. If the army had not taken shelter there, the region probably would have been devastated, and the toads would remain unknown to science.
Bacillus isronensis Shivaji, et.al., 2009 This highly ultraviolet-resistant bacterium from the upper stratosphere was discovered by balloon experiments and named for ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization.
Bacillus safensis Venkateswaran, 2004 This bacillus has evolved to survive on spacecraft surfaces in JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility (whence its name). It is highly resistant to gamma and UV radiation and presumably draws energy from ions of trace metals like aluminum and titanium. It is almost certainly living aboard the Mars rovers and may survive as spores for millions of years.
Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Distaso 1912) Castellani and Chalmers 1919 (gut bacterium) "a combination of the Greek letters theta, iota, and omicron, relating to the morphology of vacuolated forms"; I would like to see more explanation.
Bathynema nodinauti Miljutin 2009 (nematode) honoring the NODINAUT research cruise, from "Manganese NODule area" and the submarine NAUTile.
Canthicaster criobe Williams et al., 2012 (pufferfish) After the Centre de Recherche Insulaire et Observatoire de l'Environnement in Moorea. [Zootaxa 3523: 84]
Cedecea (bacterium) after CDC: Centers for Disease Control.
Chromidotilapia mrac Lamboj, 2002 (cichlid) after Muséé Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.
Conophytum armianum Hammer, 1988 (African plant) From the initials ARM of Anthony R. Mitchell.
Copiapoa ahremephianus Taylor & Charles, 2002 (S. American cactus) For the initials RMF of Roger M. Ferryman.
Csiro Medvedev & Lawrence, 1984 (tenebrionid) after Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia.
Csiromedusa and family Csirobedusidae (jellyfish) also after Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia.
Gesaia csiro Zhang et al. 2020 (abyssal polychaete)
Desemzia (bacterium) after DSMZ: Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen.
Desyopone Boudinot & Perrichot, 2022 (Miocene ant) DESY is the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchroton, whose facilities were used to identify the fossil; "-pone" is the traditional suffix for ponerine ants.
Diastylis andeepae Alberico & Mühlenhardt-Siegel 2010 (hooded shrimp) and Storthyngurella andeepae Malyutina & Brandt 2004 (Isopoda: Munnopsididae) Both named after the ANtarctic DEEP-sea biodiversity expeditions (ANDEEP).
Drinker nisti Bakker et al., 1990 (ornithopod dinosaur) after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce). "It's the only dinosaur named after an arm of the federal government. Someday I'm going to name one after the I.R.S." - Robert Bakker.
Egatochoerus (oldest named peccary) from EGAT, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (and choer, young pig).
Emausaurus Haubold, 1990 (Jurassic thyreophoran dinosaur) Named for the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität of Greifswald, Germany.
Eoabelisaurus mefi Pol & Rauhut, 2012 (theropod dinosaur) In recognition of the support of the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF) in Argentina.
Esconites Thompson & Johnson, 1977 (fossil polychaete worm), and Esconichthys Bardack, 1974 (fossil lungfish) Both are from the Mazon Creek formation in Illinois and are named after the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois (ESCONI).
Eurycea sosorum Chippindale, Price, Hillis, 1993 (Barton Springs salamander) The salamander has a very small range. "The species is named in honor of the citizens of Austin, Texas, whose efforts to protect the quality of Barton Springs resulted in the passage of a citizen's aquifer-protection initiative in 1992. This initiative is known locally as the SOS (Save Our Springs) Ordinance, and its supporters as SOSers. The specific name sosorum is the plural mixed-gender genitive form of the acronym SOS." [Herpetologica 49:248-259]
Eviulisoma cetafi Enghoff, 2018 (millipede) For Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities.
Eviulisoma etji Enghoff, 2018 (millipede) For the European Journal of Taxonomy "in recognition of its immense importance for the dissemination of taxonomic research in Europe, and beyond." Coincidentally (?), the species is described in that journal. [E J T 445:34]
Fubarichthys (fossil fish) Usually found with its head disarticulated, or fubar (F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition).
Geocenamus (nematode) "Geographical Center of North America"
Habronestes boq Baehr, 2008 (spider) For the Bank of Queensland. (See Named after Things.)
Haptoclinus dropi Baldwin and Robertson, 2013 (blenny fish) Discovered as part of the Smithsonian's Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP).
Helacyton Van Valen & Maiorana, 1991 (HeLa cell culture). HeLa is a cell culture derived from a cervical cancer of Henrietta Lacks, hence the name. ("Hela" was preoccupied by a crustacean.) It is described as a new species because it is widespread and feral. By some systematics conventions, it is a unicellular species of human. [Evolutionary Theory 10: 71]
Heterodera mani (nematode) for Ministry of Agriculture, Northern Ireland.
Hypogena cat Steiner, 2005 (tenebrionid beetle) Honoring tenebrionid specialist Charles A. Triplehorn. Not coincidentally, the beetle has three horns. [Annales Zoologici 55: 574.]
Impatiens quintadecimacopii G.W. Hu & Q.F. Wang (impatiens) Name derived from the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, a conference which was upcoming when the species was described in 2020.
Inpaichthys Géry & Junk, 1977 (tetra) Named for INPA, the Brazilian Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia. Also: Crenicichla inpa Ploeg, 1991 (cichlid) and Aguarunichthys inpai Zuanon, Rapp Py-Daniel & Jegu, 1993 (siluroid fish), Bryconops inpai Knoppel et al., 1968 (charaoid fish), and Phytocerum inpa Costa et al., 2003 (beetle) [Syst. Entomol 28: 375]
Isisaurus Wilson & Upchurch, 2003 (Cretaceous Titanosaur) Named after the Indian Statistical Institute.
Lasioglossum gattaca Danforth & Wcislo, 1999 (halticid bee) Referring to the genetic code, whose bases abbreviated A, T, C, and G, and no doubt influenced by the 1997 sci-fi movie "Gattaca." [Annals of ESA 92: 624]
Macrocarpaea gattaca J.R. Grant (gentian)
Maelestes gobiensis Wible et al. 2007. (Late Cretaceous placental mammal) "Mae" is the acronym for Mongolian Academy of Sciences-American Museum of Natural History Expeditions.
Melanotaenia angfa (rainbowfish) in honour of the Australia New Guinea Fishes Association.
Meloidogyne naasi (nematode) for National Agricultural Advisory Service.
Microcebus gerpi Radespiel et al., 2012 (Gerp's mouse lemur) Named after Groupe d'Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP), the research and conservation team that described it.
Natalichthys ori Winterbottom, 1980 (fish) for the Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban, South Africa.
Natalichthys sam Winterbottom, 1980 (fish) Named for S.A.M., the South African Museum, where the specimen was found.
Ocepechelon Bardet et al. 2013 (Cretaceous sea turtle) "Genus name from OCP, acronym for the Groupe Office Chérifien des Phosphates, the mining company exploiting phosphatic deposits in Morocco", plus the Greek for "turtle".
Ocepeia Gheerbrant & Sudre, 2001 (Paleocene Afrotherian mammal)
Ophiologimus aiodipius Thuy, 2013 (Cretaceous brittle star) "Species named derived from IODP, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, under which the samples yielding the type material were recovered." [Euro. J. Tax. 48: 54]
Pachyplichas jagmi Millener 1988 (New Zealand stout-legged wren, now extinct). After the initials of palaeontologist John A. Grant-Mackie.
Pangolinisis cia Alderslade, 1998 (gorgonian) Found attached to an Australian submarine phone cable, although perhaps not listening in as one might expect from the American C.I.A.
Phaenandrogomphus safei Dow & Luke, 2015 (damselfly) discovered in the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project [Zootaxa 3905: 146]
Physalaemus enesefae Heatwole, Solano & Heatwole, 1965 (leptodactylid frog) Named after NSF (National Science Foundation).
Pygopleurus rufovillescens undofi Keith, 2001 (beetle) named after the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force. Found on part of the Golan Hights controlled by UN soldiers.
Rusichthys Winterbottom, 1979 (fish) Named for the collection at the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology (now the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity); "R.U.S.I." (Rhodes University Smith Institute) prefixes all specimen catalog numbers. Mimoblennius rusi Springer & Spreitzer, 1978 (rusi blenny) gets its name from the same source.
Sio (deep-sea fish) for Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Squatina mapama Long et al. 2021 (angel shark) for the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, the Spanish governmental organization which operated the research vessel.
Stenocrates inpai Ratcliffe, 1978 (scarab beetle) for I.N.P.A. (Institutional Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia) in Brazil.
Tanganicodus irsacae (cichlid) for IRSAC, the Central African Science Research Institute.
Taymyroceras niiga Bodylevski, 1958 (Jurassic cephalopod) after Nauchno Issledovatelski Institut Geologii Arctiki (Scientific Institute of the Arctic Geology); published in the transactions of the same institute.
Thomasomys apeco Leo & Gardner, 1993 (Apeco Oldfield mouse) APECO is an acronym for Asociacion Peruana para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza. [Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 106: 417-428.]
Tianchiasaurus nedegoapeferkima Dong & Holden, 1992 (ankylosaurid dinosaur) After Jurassic Park stars "Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sir Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Wayne Knight, Ariana Richards, & Joseph Mazzello". (The genus is named after Lake Tian Chi.) The name was proposed by Steven Speilberg, who donated money for Chinese dinosaur research. The genus was originally named Jurassosaurus before it was formally described.
Tomocichla asfraci Allgayer, 2002 (cichlid) For ASsociation FRAnçaise des CIchlidophiles.
Trichogramma esalqueanum Querino & Zucchi, 2003 (wasp) For Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz".
Trophomera ifremeri (Miljutin, 2004) (nematode) After Institut français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer, Brest (IFREMER).
Trombicula fujigmo Philip & Fuller, 1950 (chigger) After WWII slang--"F*ck you, Jack, I got my orders".
Typhochlaena amma Bertani, 2012 (tarantula) For the Aracnídeos e Miriápodes da Mata Atlântica project.
Uladendron codesuri Marcano-Berti (tree, Malvaceae) ULA = Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela; CODESUR = Comisión para el Desarrollo del Sur (de Venezuela).
Unescoceratops Ryan et al., 2012 (ceratopsid dinosaur) Named to honor the UNESCO World Heritage Site where it was found. [Cretaceous Research 33:7]
Urbacodon Averianov & Sues, 2007 (theropod dinosaur) The "URBAC-" honors the Uzbek, Russian, British, American, and Canadian scientists who participated in the discovery. The description was based only on teeth, hence the "-don", tooth.
Vagabundia sci Valdecasas, 2008 (water mite) Named for the Science Citation Index (SCI), and using the etymology as an opportunity to editorialize: "Despite statements to the contrary that SCI is not adequate to evaluate taxonomic production (Krell 2000), it is used routinely to evaluate taxonomists and prioritize research grant proposals. As with everything in life, SCI had a beginning and will have an end. Before it becomes history, I dedicate this species to this sociological tool that has done more harm than good to taxonomic work and the basic study of biodiversity. Young biologists avoid the 'taxonomic trap' or becoming taxonomic specialists (Agnarsson & Kuntner 2007) due to the low citation rate of strictly discovery-oriented and interpretative taxonomic publications. Lack of recognition of the value of these publications, makes it difficult for authors to obtain grants or stable professional positions." [Zootaxa 1820: 44]
Vegavis iaai Clarke et al. 2005 (Cretaceous bird) Named for the Argentine Antarctica Institute (IAA). [Nature 433: 305]
Verma ansp Böhlke, 1968 (now Apterichtus ansp) (eel) Indicated to be an arbitrary combination of letters, but actually the acronym for Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, where the author worked.
Vnigriceras Saveliev, 1973 (Cretaceous cephalopod) Named after Vserossijskij Neftjanoy Nauchno-Isdledovatelskij Geologorazvedochnyi Institut (All-Russian Oil Scientific and Geological Survey Institute, in Leningrad), abridged to VNIGRI in Russian. Saveliev also named Myophorella vnigri 1960 (Jurassic bivalve) and Sonneratia (Eosonneratia) vnigri, 1973 (Cretaceous cephalopod)
Waddlia (bacterium) after WADDL: Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
Whoia Hessler, 1970 (Isopoda: Desmosomatidae) For the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

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