Thursday, June 05, 2008

Names of new species to the highest bidder

Here's an interesting article about funding taxonomic research by giving naming rights to the highest bidder. Amazingly there is even a clearinghouse for such a thing. The most absurd seems to be the Monkey, named for an online casino. They only paid $650,000. In the end the money went to preserve the monkey's habitat in Bolivia.

An event in Monaco raised over 2 million dollars auctioning the names of 10 newly discovered fish from Indonesia. A new species of shark went for $500,000.

Of course patronage of science is nothing new and names of exotic beasts large and small are littered with the names of European Royalty and upper crust who either were patrons or were hoped for patrons. The Birds of Paradise seem to be especially rife with such naming in both common and latin names. Stephanie's Astrapia, Carola's Parotia, and The King of Saxony Bird of Paradise are a few. The national bird of Papua New Guinea, the Raggiana Bird of Paradise was named for The Marquis Francis Raggi of Genoa.

Walter Rothschild, of the European banking family was a particularly involved patron amassing a gigantic collection and sponsoring collectors around the world. Several critters were named after him including a subspecies of Giraffe. He sponsored his first expedition when he was twenty years old. He was also a bit of a nut keeping all manner of exotic animals around the estate. He sometimes drove a carriage drawn by a team of Zebra's around and annoyed his father when one of his dingos bit several of the family horses.

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