Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Etymology: Named after Places

Amblyoproctus boondocksius Ratcliffe, 1988 (scarab) found in the middle of nowhere.
Ambondro mahabo Flynn & Wyss (Jurassic mammal) named for the Madagascan village of Ambondromahabo.
Apolysis humbugi Evenhuis, 1985 (bombyliid fly) From Humbug Creek, CA.
Oligodranes humbug Evenhuis, 1985 (bombyliid fly) Another from Humbug Creek.
Aptostichus asmodaeus Bond 2012 (trapdoor spider) Named Asmodeus, a king of demons, in reference to the type locality, Mount Diablo State Park.
Asiamericana asiatica Nessov, 1995 (fossil saurodontid fish)
Aspergillus hatcho (a mold used in making miso) "Hatcho" is Japanese for "8th Street." In this case, the street is in Okazaki, Aichi Province, home of Hatcho Miso Company, which has made miso for five centuries.
Bajacalifornia Townsend & Nichols, 1925 (slickhead fish)
Barwickia downunda Long, 1992 (Devonian lungfish) The published etymology of "downunda" says only, "A fortuitous collection of letters," but it is likely no coincidence that the fossil was discovered in Australia by an Australian, the genus named for an Australian (zoologist Richard Barwick), and the description published in an Australian journal. [Records of the Austr. Mus. 44: 299.]
Borealosuchus threeensis Brochu et al., 2012 (Cretaceous/Eocene crocodyliform) Fossils were discoverd in Gloucester County, New Jersey, near to exit 3 of the New Jersey Turnpike. (It's closer to exit 37A of the Garden State Parkway, but that would have created a more cumbersome name.) The authors explain that the name is "in reference to a question every New Jersey resident encounters when traveling: 'Oh, you're from New Jersey? Which exit?'"
"Capitalsaurus" (theropod dinosaur) In 1898, some dinosaur bone fragments were found in a sewer excavation in the District of Columbia, too fragmentary for a confident identification. After some doubtful assignments to other genera, the fossil was named Capitalsaurus in 1990, and the name published in scientific literature in 1998, but since the name was not accompanied by a proper description, the name is still informal. It has, however, become the official dinosaur of D.C., and the street where it was discovered was renamed "Capitalsaurus Court."
Caulkicephalus 2005 (pterosaur) Found on the Isle of Wright, where the inhabitants are informally known as caulkhead.
Dysnocryptus balthasar, D. gaspar, and D. melchior Holloway, 1982 (weevils) from Three Kings' Islands, New Zealand.
Eucteniza cabowabo Bond & Godwin, 2013 (trapdoor spider) Named for the night club Cabo Wabo, owned by rocker Sammy Hagar.
Gwyneddichtis gwyneddensis Bock, 1959 (fossil fish), and
Gwyneddichnium gwyneddensis Bock (fossil reptile footprints) both from the Gwynedd Formation at the Gwynedd Tunnel in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania.
Haasiophis terrasanctus Tchernov, Rieppel, Zaher, Polcyn & Jacobs, 2000 (Lower Cretaceous marine snake) Named after "holy land", as it was discovered in 'Ein Yabrud, Judean Hills, Israel. It has tiny, well-developed, hind limbs, but there is no indication it could talk.
Haitia (loosestrife relative) Named for the country Haiti, where it was discovered -- one of few plant genera named for a relatively small location.
Hylaeus emir Dathe, 2000 (bee) Named for the United Arab Emirates, where it was discovered; its magnificient coloring also suggests the country's emirs.
Kribbella catacumbae Urzì et al. 2008 and K. sancticallisti Urzì et al. 2008 (bacteria) named for the catacombs of Saint Callistus in Rome, where they were discovered.
Lasioglossum gotham Gibbs, 2011 (bee) Discovered in Brooklyn Botanic Garden and named after a nickname of New York City made famous by Batman. [Zootaxa 3073: 1]
Martialis Rabeling & Verhaagh, 2008 (ant) The name means "from Mars." In fact, it is from Amazonian jungle in Brazil, but it looks so different from other ants that it was given a name reflecting its alien appearance.
Myzocallis kahawaluokalani Kirkaldy (aphid) The Hawaiian name supposedly means, "you fish on your side of the lagoon and I'll fish on the other, and no one will fish in the middle."
Nihoa Raven & Churchill, 1992 (trapdoor spider) Named after the first of the uninhabited Hawaiian Islands, where the genus was first discovered.
Panama canalia Marsh, 1993 (braconid)
Parthenocissus Planch. (vine) From partheno-, "virgin" (+ kissos, "ivy"). It is uncertain whether the name derives from the common name "Virginia creeper" (P. quinquefolia) or from the creeper's ability to seed without pollination, or both.
Rattus nativitatis (Christmas Island bulldog rat) (recently extinct)
Sericipterus Andres et al. 2010 (Jurassic pterosaur) From sericum, Latin for "silk", in reference to the Silk Route, which passed through the Xinjiang province where the fossil was found.
Whatcheeria deltae Lombard & Bolt, 1995 (Carboniferous tetrapod) Named after What Cheer, hometown of the fossil's discoverer, and Delta, nearest town to the discovery site. Both are in Keokuk County, Iowa.
Alabama Grote, 1895 (lep)
Argentina Linnaeus, 1758 (fish) NOT named after the country (which did not become an independent country until 60 years after the naming), but for the Latin for "silver" (which the country is also named for).
Argentinala Petrulevicius & Gutiérrez, 2016 (Carboniferous insect) This one is named for the country (+'-ala', wing).
Arizona (snake)
Asia Pergens, 1887 (coelentrate; nomen nudum)
Australia Girault, 1928 (parasitic wasp)
Babylonia Schlüter, 1838 (mollusk)
Bulgaria (fungus)
Burma Kirkaldy, 1904 (bug)
China Burr, 1899 (orthopteran)
Colombia Rang, 1835 (mollusk)
Cuba Dyar, 1919 (lep)
Florida Baird, 1858 (bird)
Martialis Rabeling, Brown and Verhaagh, 2008 (ant) "The genus name refers to the unknown combination of aberrant morphological characters, which led Stefan P. Cover and Edward O. Wilson to the conclusion that this ant has to be from the planet Mars." [PNAS 0806187105]
Mexico Spilman, 1972 (jumping shore beetle)
Noumea Risbec, 1928 (nudibranch)
Derarimus riga Telnov, 2001 (ant-like flower beetle) Named after Riga, capital of Latvia, for its 800th anniversary in 2001.
Samoa Sörensen, 1886 (arachnid)
Sonora Baird and Girard 1853 (snake)
Texas Kirkaldy, 1904 (bug)
Uruguay (fossil bee cells) from the Late Cretaceous/Early Tertiary, in Uruguay.
Virginia Baird and Girard 1853 (snake)
Xenaroswelliana deltaquadrant Erwin, 2007 (carabid) Roswell, NM, is famous as a putative landing place of an alien UFO, and xenos, "stranger", refers both to the strangeness of this Brazilian beetle and the likely probability that its larvae inhabit ant or termite nests. The Delta Quadrant is a region in the Star Trek universe where humans encountered mysterious life forms. This species presents a similar challenge. [PCAS 58: 561]

Named After Schools

Aganaster jagiellonicus Thuy, Kutscher & Plachno, 2014 (brittle star) In honor of Jagiellonian University, the oldest in Poland, and of the Jagiellonian Dynasty of Polish Kings.
Amblyopsis hoosieri Chakrabarty et al. 2014 (Hoosier cavefish) Named in reference to the state of Indiana and Indiana University, home of biologists Carl H. Eigenmann, who studied blind cave vertebrates, and David Starr Jordan, father of American ichthyology. [Zookeys 412: 41]
Aphis mizzou Lagos & Puttler 2012 (aphid) Named after the University of Missouri, the only place it is found.
Aptostichus stanfordianus Smith 1908 (trapdoor spider) Named for the "Stanford Estate", part of Stanford University land, where it was first found.
Baileya ellessyoo Brou 2004 (moth) for Louisiana State University. [J. Lepid. Soc. 58: 98]
Euchomenella kasetsart Unnahachote et al. 2020 (stick insect) Named for Kasetsart University campus, Thailand, the type locality.
Gonatocerus ucri Triapitsyn, 2013 (mymarid wasp) Named for the University of California, Riverside (UCR), where Triapitsyn works.
Homo heidelbergensis Schoetensack, 1908 (human ancestor) Named after the University of Heidelberg, where Schoetenstack worked and near where the fossil was first found.
Hydraena ateneo Freitag, 2013 (hydraenid beetle) Discovered in a pond on the campus of Ateneo de Manila University (Phillipines) during an undergraduate exercise, and honoring the Department of Biology's 50th anniversay. [Zookeys 329: 9]
Mansourasaurus shahinae Sallam et al. 2018 (Cretaceous sauropod) Named after Mansoura University (in Egypt) and Mona Shahin, one of the founders of its Vertebrate Paleontology Center.
Technosaurus Chatterjee, 1984 (prosauropod dinosaur) "Texas Technological University (Texas Tech) Lizard"
Myrmekiaphila tigris Bond & Ray, 2012 (trap-door spider) Discovered in Auburn, Alabama, it is named after the mascot of Auburn University. [ZooKeys 190: 95].
Myzostoma seymourcollegiorum Rouse and Grygier, 2005 (annelid) Seymour College is a girl's school in a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia.
Ptolemeba bulliensis (protist) Named after Mississippi State University's first bulldog mascot, Ptolemy, and Bully, the mascot of Mississippi State, because the protist was found on the campus.
Xerocomus silwoodensis Taylor et al., 2007 (mushroom) Discovered on the Silwood Park campus of Imperial College London.

Named After Local Cultures

Ainu Lewis, 1894 (beetle) There are also several species named after these indigenous northern Japanese.
Akawaio Maldenado-Ocampo et al., 2013 (knifefish) Named after the Akawaio people who populate the upper Mazaruni River, Guyana, where the fish was discovered.
Aleiodes napo Shimbori & Shaw, 2014 (parasitic wasp) Named after the indigenous people of eastern Ecuador, for whom the province (locality of the type) is also named: Napo Runas.
Allocareproctus unangas Orr and Busby, 2006 (snailfish) "Unangas" is the autonym of the Aleuts of Atka Island, near the center of the species distribution. [Zootaxa 1173: 30]
Aloe rendilliorum Newton, 2006 (African plant) Named for the Rendille tribe of Kenya.
Ancistrus shuar Provenzano & Barriga-Salazar, 2018 (fish) from Ecuador.
Ancyronyx buhid Freitag, 2013 (riffle beetle) Named Buhid group indigenous to the Philippines.
Apachesaurus Hunt, 1993 (Triassic amphibian)
Aptostichus miwok Bond, 2008 (trapdoor spider) Named for the Miwoks of California.
Aptostichus aguacaliente, A. cahuilla, A. chemehuevi and A. serrano Bond, 2012 (trapdoor spider) Named for other California native groups.
Aphyocharax yekwanae Willink, Chernoff & Machado-Allison, 2003 (tetra) In honor of the Ye'Kwana Indians of the Caura River Basin, Venezuela, where the fish is found.
Apodemus gurkha Thomas, 1924 (Nepalese field mouse)
Azteca (ant)
Berberosaurus Allain et al., 2007 (theropod dinosaur) referring to the Berbers of Morocco. The fossil is from the Atlas mountains of Morocco.
Bittacus zulu Londt 1972 (hangingfly)
Bolitoglossa guaneae Acosta-Galvis & Gutiérrez-Lamus, 2012 (salamander) Named for the Guane people, who live in Colombia within the range of the salamander. [Pap. Avulsos Zool. 52]
Callithrix saterei de Sousa & de Noronha, 1998 Named for the Satere-Maues indians in Amazonian Brazil. [Goeldiana Zoologia 21: 1]
Caulkicephalus Steel et al. 2005 (Cretaceous pterosaur) A translation of "Caulkhead", a traditional nickname for residents of Isle of Wight, where the fossil was found.
Chiasmocleis quilombola Tonini et al., 2014 (frog) Named for the people who inhabit quilombo communities in Expírito Santo Estate, Brazil, who are descended from escaped slaves during Portuguese rule and who have maintained their culture. [ZooKeys 428: 109]
Chilgatermes diamatensis Engel et al., 2012 (Oligocene fossil termite) D'mt (aka Diamat) was an ancient kingdom which included the Chilga region of Ethiopia, where the fossil was found. [Acta Palaeo. Polonica 58: 331]
Cupressus nootkatensis D.Don 1824 (Nootka cypress) discovered on land of the Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) people of Vancouver Island.
Cuscomys ashaninka Emmons, 1999 (chinchilla rat from the Peruvian Andes) "mouse from Cusco, of the Ashaninka people".
Dakotadon lakotaensis (Weishampel and Bjork, 1989) (Cretaceous iguanodont) Originally described as an Iguanodon, its placement is still controversial.
Dawndraco kanzai Kellner, 2010 (Cretaceous pterosaur) referring to the Kanza (or Kaw) tribe of Kansas.
Dynastes maya Hardy 2003 (scarab)
Liturgusa maya Saussure & Zehnter, 1894 (mantis)
Eptatretus wayuu Mok, Saavedra-Diaz & Acero P., 2001 (hagfish) Named for the Wayuu (Guajiro) people living on the coastal region of Colombia near the type locality.
Euglossa embera Hinojosa-Díaz et al. 2012 (orchid bee) Named for the Emberá, an indigenous people of lowland Colombia. [Zookeys 221: 63]
Europejara olcadesorum Vullo et al., 2012 (Cretaceous pterosaur) The Olcades were the first inhabitants of the Cuenca region of Spain, where the fossil was discovered.
Galeodes arabs C.L. Koch, 1842 (solfugid, or sun spider) from the Middle East. (Reaching 10 miles/hour, these may be the fastest terrestrial invertebrates.)
Hopiichnus Welles, 1971 (trackway of a lower Jurassic ornithomimid dinosaur) from Arizona; named for the Hopi.
Huaridelphis Lambert et al., 2014 (Miocene dolphin) Named for the Huari (Wari) culture of Peru.
Hypsiboas tetete Caminer & Ron, 2014 (tree frog) Named after the Tetete, an indigenous group of Amazonian Colombia and Ecuador, now extinct. "Its recent disappearance parallels the destruction of increasingly large areas of forest in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the ensuing decline of biodiversity." [Zookeys 370: 1]
Incadelphys (South American fossil marsupial). There are also Larosterna inca (Inca tern) and Scardafella inca (Inca dove). The last is also misnamed; it is found in the southern U. S. and in Central America, but not in South America.
Lexovisaurus Hoffestetter, 1957 (French stegosaur) named for the ancient Gallic Lexovix tribe.
Liturgusa bororum Svenson, 2014 (mantis) Named for the Bora people of Peru, Columbia, and Brazil.
Macroteleia yaguarum Perrichot & Engel, 2014 (Miocene wasp) Named for the Yagua people of Peru. [ZooKeys 426: 119]
Magyarosaurus von Huene, 1932 (dwarf sauropod) from Hungary, named for the Magyars.
Megadyptes waitaha Seddon et al. 2008 (recently extinct penguin) The Waitaha were the first Polynesian tribe to occupy South Island of New Zealand.
Mico munduruku Costa-Araújo et al., 2019 (monkey) Named for the Munduruku, an indigineous Brazilian group.
Micronycteris matses Simmons, Voss, & Fleck, 2002 (Matses' big-eared bat) for the Matses indians of Amazonian Brazil.
Navahoceros (Pleistocene mountain deer)
Navahopus Baird, 1980 (Jurassic footprints) from the Navajo Sandstone
Nepenthes tboli Jebb & Cheek (2014) (pitcher plant) Named for the Philippine T'boli people, local to where it was discovered. [Blumea 59: 149]
Nipponia nippon (Japanese crested ibis)
Oocyclus trio (water beetle) Named for the Trio people, indigenous to Suriname, who assisted the expedition that discovered the beetles.
Oreobates amarakaeri and Oreobates machiguenga Padial et al., 2012 (frogs) After the Amarakaeri and Machiguenas, indigenous groups who, like the frogs, are intimately associated with the Amazonian forests.
Orobdella ketagalan Nakano & Lai, 2012 (leech) Named for the Ketagalan, an aboriginal Taiwanese tribe in the area where the species was discovered. [Zookeys 207: 49]
Papilio rutulus Lucas 1852 (Western tiger swallowtail) The Rutuli were a legendary Italian tribe of blondes; the swallowtail has large yellow wings with black stripes.
Piratosaurus Leidy, 1865 (Late Cretaceous North American Mosasaur)
Prosaurolophus blackfeetensis Horner, 1992 (duck-billed dinosaur) found on a Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Montana.
Ripipteryx mopana Heads & Taylor 2012 (Orthopterous insect) named for the Mopan, a Mayan group indgenous to Belize. [ZooKeys 169: 5.]
Shoshonia arctopteryx Friedman, Coates, Anderson 2007 (Fossil coelacanth) from Wyoming. Named after the Shoshone people and the Shoshone National Forest.
Siksika Lund, 1989 (Carboniferous fish) named after the Siksika, or Blackfoot, nation.
Skiaster vikingr Blake & Jagt, 2005 (late Cretaceous/early Paleogene echinoderms) from Denmark, Viking country. [Bull. l'Inst. Royal des Sci. Nat. Belg. 75: 183]
Suncus etruscus (Etruscan shrew) Its type locality is in Pisa, Italy, in the heartland of the ancient Etruscan civilization.
Teuthidodrilus samae Osborn et al., 2010 (squidworm) The Sama is a culture with ties to Philippine islands near the discovery site.
Tzeltalia E.Estrada & M.Martínez (tomato relative) named for the Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas and Guatemala.
Tupinambis matipu Ribeiro-Júnior & Ávila-Pires, 2018 (lizard) Named for the Matipu of Mato Grosso, Brazil, who numbered only 149 by 2011. [Herpetology 52: 94]
Yanomamua Grant, Maas, and Struwe, 2006 (herb, Gentianaceae) Named for the Yanomamö, indigenous to the area of Venezuela where the plant is found. [Harvard Papers in Botany 11: 29]
Yicaris dianensis Zhang, Siveter, Waloszek & Maas 2007 (Late Cambrian crustacean) The Yi are an ethnic minority group of Yunnan Province, China. "Dian" refers to an ancient kingdom of southern China.
Zuniceratops Wolfe & Kirkland, 1998 (ceratopsian dinosaur) Named for the Zuni Native American tribe.

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