“Zoologist Dr. George McGavin delves into the strange and often bizarre names given to the planet’s insects.
There are an estimated 10 million living insect species, with new specimens being discovered almost daily. Entomologists are turning to ever more imaginative names, referencing everything from literary figures, celebrities and politicians to playground puns.
George takes us into the complex and intriguing world of the taxonomist. From the 18th century father of modern taxonomy Carl Linnaeus to the present day, he explains why naming the things that surround us is the foundation of all science.
There are flies named Pieza kake and S. beyonceae (after the singer); beetles with political connections – A. hitleri, A. bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi; and some entomologists have even named discoveries after romantic conquests. Unsurprisingly, names can prove controversial but, once set, are difficult to change.”
We hope that this will be a fun introduction for anyone who has questions about how and why we name species in the way that we do. We will be writing blog posts in the future that tackle the subjects of taxonomy and classification in both the broader sense and the minutiae so for the moment, let us leave you with a selection of our favourite fun names of insects and animals:
- Preseucoila imallshookupis is a species of gall wasp named after Elvis Presley.
- Agra schwareneggeri is a species of carabid beetle named after Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Bagheera kiplingi is a species of jumping spider named after Rudyard Kipling and his character Bagheera the panther from ‘The Jungle Book’.
- Tianchisaurus nedegoapeferima is an ankylosaurian dinosaur. The species name ‘nedegoapeferima’ is formed from the first two letters of the surnames of the main stars of the film ‘Jurassic Park‘.
- Psephophorus terrypratchetti is a species of Eocene turtle named after the author Terry Pratchett who wrote the ‘Discworld Series’ which is set on a world that is carried through space on the back of a giant turtle.