Wednesday 17 January 2018

What's in a name? Scientist launches Ebay auction to find moniker for new species of moth

The convolvulus hawk-moth migrates from southern Europe (Keith Baldie, Butterfly Conservation)
The convolvulus hawk-moth migrates from southern Europe (Keith Baldie, Butterfly Conservation)
Cinnabar moth caterpillars are big and fat at this time of year

Sarah-Jane Murphy

An entomologist who uncovered a new variety of moth has decided to allow Ebay to choose the insect's name.

Entomology is the scientific study of insects.

Eric Metzier discovered the moth in New Mexico in the USA eight years ago but has just recently succeeded in having it declared a new species.

Bidders on website Ebay have engaged in fierce competition to be the successful 'namer' of the new variety of moth.

Read More: Nature lovers use alcohol and tobacco to lure huge continental hawk-moth

Metzier said that all monies raised from the online auction will go to the Western Parks Association, the body that financed his ground breaking research.

The winning name will be 'latinised' and will need to be approved by the appropriate zoological naming bodies.

"I am not a rich man and I don't have a lot of money to give to charity, but this is the way I could give them money in the form of service.

"I could use my brains to help them," Metzier said.

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In September, botanist Dr Chris Martine declared that he and his students had named a new species of flora after Mark Watney, the lead role played by actor Matt Damon in Hollywood film The Martian.

They did so because in the movie the fictional character of Mark Watney is a botanist.

"Scientist heroes are already unusual in Hollywood, but a space-deserted protagonist who studies plants as a profession is something extraordinary," Martine said.

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