Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature
Mark Isaak
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Etymology: Other Derivations

Arthrenus museorum Linnaeus, 1761 (dermestid beetle) Linnaeus discovered this beetle devouring valuable museum collections of zoological specimens. Dermestid beetles today are used by museums to prepare skeleton specimens by cleaning soft tissue from them.
Boronia hoipolloi M.F.Duretto, 1999 (Queensland citrus relative) Found in a sandstone amphitheatre. [Austrobaileya 5(2): 288]
Cafeteria roenbergensis Fenchel & Patterson, 1988 (bacterivorous zooflagelate) Patterson said the name "was prompted by a pink neon sign affixed to a wall on hostelry in Roenbjerg (Denmark) which was illuminated just as the authors were about to give up on finding a good name for one of the most significant consumers in the world."
Callicebus aureipalatii (Golden Palace monkey) The right to name this Bolivian monkey were put up for option. GoldenPalace.com, a Canadian web-based casino, paid $650,000 for such publicity. The money will generate an estimated $40,000 to $45,000 per year which the Bolivian Wildlife Conservation Society will use to maintain Madidi National Park, probably the most biologically diverse park in the world.
Calliopsis filiorum Rozen, 1963 (andrenid bee) "Filiorum" is Latin for 'children'. So named because Rozen's children waited patiently in the sun while he dug up the nest.
Cardiocondyla pirata Seifert & Frohschammer, 2013 (ant) "The species epithet refers to the black ribbon across the eye reminiscent of a pirate's blindfold." [ZooKeys 301: 13]
Chromis humbug Whitley 1954 (fish)
Corydoras narcissus Nijssen & Isbrucker, 1980 (catfish) Named "narcissus" because the discoverers insisted that the describer name it after them.
Cyclocephala unamas Ratcliffe, 2003 (scarab beetle) Spanish for "one more," since there are so many in the genus.
Drepanovelia millennium Andersen and Weir, 2001 (veliid water strider) The real "Millennium bug". [Invert. Taxonomy 15: 217-258]
Sinornithosaurus millenii Xu, Wang & Wu, 1999) (Chinese dromaeosaur)
Drosera zigzagia Lowrie (sundew) Its leaves alternate along a zigzag stem.
Siphonocryptus zigzag (millipede)
Epictia rioignis Koch et al. 2019 (snake) "The specific epithet is an agglutination of the Latin nomen 'ignis' which means fire and the proper noun 'Rio' as an acronym for the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. This name was chosen in honour to the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro/UFRJ, Brazil's oldest scientific institution with the largest South American collections of zoology, anthropology, geology and paleontology. Many of the precious collections pertaining to the zoology department (mostly invertebrates), anthropology, geology and paleontology were completely destroyed in the disastrous fire in its main building on September 2nd 2018. Due to historical neglection of this institution from the Brazilian government, added with substantial funding decrease in the past 5 years the museum did not receive sufficient money to fullfil basic safety standards--such as fire protection. The description of this new species, with specimens housed in a scientific collection [Natural History Museum in Vienna] for more than 100 years highlights one of the several importances of zoological collections in housing relevant material to understand the diversity of life, and also reinforce that such collections are timeless treasures for science. Such collections should receive strong attention in government investments as they contribute to the global development of science."
Erythroneura ix Myers (leafhopper) This was Myers' 9th species of Erythroneura.
Gaudeamus igitur Simons (Oligocene rodent) The name means "let us therefore be joyful," the first words of a medieval student song. Supposedly, there was something particularly lucky about the fossil.
Goodrichthys (fossil shark)
Guibemantis milingilingy Bletz et al. 2018 (frog) "The specific epithet is a Malagasy word meaning 'being in an uncomfortable position,' in reference to the precariousness of capturing specimens of this species, due to the uneven and steep substrate on which their Pandanus plants grow, which caused one of the authors to fall into such a plant with great gusto."
Halkieria evangelista Conway Morris and Peel, 1995 "The name is chosen as an indication of the fossil's explanatory power for Lower Cambrian palaeontology, and aslo as a pun on Johann, one of the pilots who assisted in field-work." [Phil. Trans. Biol. Sci. 347: 310.]
Histiophryne psychedelica Pietsch, Arnold & Hall, 2009 (fish) Named for the wild swirl of stripes which covers its body.
Hallucigenia Conway Morris, 1977 (Cambrian marine onychophoran) for "the bizarre and dream-like appearance of the animal". The original interpretation was upside-down; what Conway Morris thought were legs were armor spines on its back.
Horridonia horrida (Permian brachiopod) It has nothing more horrible than a set of spines.
Hymenodon reggaeus Karttunen & Back, 1988 (moss) Karttunen collected this moss in Jamaica and named it after the local music.
Inglorious mediocris Austin 1997 (mediocre skipper)
Indicator indicator Sparrman, 1777 (greater honey-guide) This African bird leads people and honey-badgers to honey nests.
Luckia striki Bellan-Santini & Thurston 1996 (amphipod) Named for the "Lucky Strike" hydrothermal vent field along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Macrocarpaea lacrossiformis J.R. Grant (gentian)
Maxillaria bicentenaria Collantes & C.Martel., 2021 (orchid) Named in homage to the bicentennial of Peru's declaration of independence (July 28, 1821).
Mycena luxaeterna and Mycena luxperpetua Desjardin et al., 2010 (mushrooms) The epithets, which mean "eternal light" and "perpetual light", come from the words of Mozart's Requiem. The fungi glow 24 hours a day.
Oedipina complex (salamander)
Paradoxides paradoxissimus (trilobite)
Proconsul Hopwood, 1933 (Miocene hominoid) "before Consul". Consul was the name of a popular chimpanzee in the Birmingham Zoo, England.
Shuvosaurus inexpectatus Chatterjee, 1993 (theropod dinosaur) so called because its features were more advanced than expected for a Triassic theropod.
Stumpffia contumelia and Stumpffia obscoena Rakotoarison et al. 2017 (frogs) The epithets mean, respectively, "insulting" and "obscene". They refer to the reduction of digits on the forefeet of the frogs, leaving a lone, extended middle finger.
Thambema thunderstruckae Zemko & Kaiser 2012 (marine isopod) Named for the AC/DC song "Thunderstruck", the lead author's favorite song. [Polish Polar Res. 33: 163.]
Xanthopan morgani praedicta Rothschild & Jordan, 1903 (African sphinx moth) In The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilized by Insects (1877), Charles Darwin described an orchid from Madagascar, Angraecum sesquepedale, whose flowers have a spur almost 12 inches long, with all the nectar at the bottom. He hypothesized that, for the plant to be fertilized, "In Madagascar there must be moths with proboscides capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches! This belief of mine has been ridiculed by entomologists..." (On the Various Contrivances Whereby British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilized by Insects, and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing, 1877). Alfred Russel Wallace had also predicted its existence in Quarterly Journal of Science (1867). In 1903, this subspecies, with a 12-inch coiled tongue, was discovered as predicted.

Conservation Status

Agra calamitas Erwin, 1986 (carabid) after the destruction befalling its native forest.
Brookesia desperata and B. tristis Glaw et al. 2012 (tiny chameleons) So named because their little remaining habitat in Madigascar is threatened (tristis means "sad"). In contrast, Brookesia confidens lives in a well-protected reserve. [PLoS ONE 7(2)]
Carcharhinus obsolerus White, Kyne & Harris, 2019 (shark) The shark, described from three historical specimens, has not been recorded anywhere in 80 years; "obsolerus" is Latin for "extinct." [PLoS ONE 14(1): e0209387]
Cyprinodon inmemoriam Lozano & Contreras, 1993 (Cachoritto de la Trinidad pupfish) recently extinct.
Drepanis funerea Newton, 1893 (black mamo) Robert Perkins discovered this perching bird on the mountains of Molokai, Hawaii 18 June 1893. Perkins proposed the name "funerea" to Alfred Newton, the species describer. This was not only on account of the birds somber jet black plummage, but because of "the sad fate that too probably awaits the species". Fourteen years later, in June of 1907, a collector shot and killed the last three known birds.
Homalictus terminalis Dorey et al. 2019 (bee) "H. terminalis has only been found within 95 m of the maximum elevation available to it. The Latin noun terminalis means limit or boundary indicating the upper elevational and thermal limit that H. terminalis inhabits and could ultimately result in its extinction with global climate warming."
Mammamia profuga Akkari et al. 2011 (millipede) "'profuga' in Latin means homeless; the name emphasizes the destroyed type locality of the species." [ZooKeys 114: 1]
Neduba extincta Rentz, 1977 (Antioch Dunes shieldback katydid) In the 1960's, Dave Rentz was revising the Dectininae crickets when he came across a specimen of an apparently new species of the Neduba genus that had lain unidentified in a museums collections since the late 1930's. Its large size, differently shaped pronotum, and other characteristics were unique. Despite several large scale field excursions to California's Antioch Dunes (which have been largely blown and hauled away) it has never again been recorded. Rentz pronounced it gone and named it 'extincta'. [Rentz, D.C.F., 1977. A new and apparently extinct katydid from Antioch sand dunes, Entomological News 88:241-245.]
Nepenthes extincta Jebb & Cheek (2014) (pitcher plant) "[T]his species may already be extinct globally." [Euro. J. Tax. 69: 14]

Social Commentary

Aegista diversifamilia Huang et al., 2014 (snail) This hermaphroditic snail is "named after the recent efforts supporting equal marriage rights in Taiwan and around the world." Its epithet is derived from Latin for "different family." [ZooKeys 445: 31]
Eurythenes plasticus Weston, 2020 (isopod) The name speaks to the ubiquity of plastic pollution in oceans. Specimens were collected from the Mariana Trench at depths 6010 to 6949 m; one specimen was found to have a plastic fiber in its hindgut.
Kirchnerala treintamil Petrulevicius & Gutiérrez, 2016 (Carboniferous insect) Dedicated to the 30,000 ("treinta mil" in Spanish) people detained-disappeared by the Argentinean dictatorship 1976-1983.
Tupacsala niunamenos Petrulevicius & Gutiérrez, 2016 (Carboniferous insect) "Dedicated to 'Ni Una Menos' (No one less), a collective against gender violence. It is a collective campaign that arose from the need to say 'enough femicides', because in Argentina every 30 hours a woman is killed just by being a woman." [Arquivos Entomolóxicos 16: 346]

Taxonomic Difficulties

Arturia dubia (Dendy, 1891) (sponge) "Indeed, it is by no means improbable that the specimens which I distinguish as Leucosolenia dubia may be young forms of L. cavata . . .". [Trans. Royal Soc. Vict. 3: 51] The species was later placed in a genus named after Arthur Dendy.
Conflicto Tambussi et al. 2019 (Palaeocene anseriform bird) "... owing to the controversial systematic position of the taxon."
Cyanea kuhihewa Lammers (small tree) The specific epithet means "to suppose wrongly" in Hawaiian, because its discoverer thought it was C. linearfolia a related extinct species.
Navicula difficillimoides Hustedt 1957 and N. difficillima Hustedt 1950 (diatoms) Epithets refer to the extreme difficulty of identification.
Pecado Hormiga & Scharff, 2005 (linyphiid spider) "Derived from the Spanish word 'pecado' (sin) in reference to widespread practice of erecting monotypic genera, especially in the Linyphiidae, in absence of a phylogenetic justification." (Pecado itself is a monotypic genus, but the authors provide phylogenetic justification.)
Sinezona calumnior and S. phenax Geiger, 2012 (sea snail) Both specific epithets refer to trickery and mischief, because the species were so hard to figure out.
Tribolium confusum Jacquelin du Val, 1863 (confused flour beetle) So called because it is often confused with the red flour beetle, T. castaneum.
On the other hand:
Platypelis laetus Rakotoarison et al. 2020 (frog) "The specific epithet is a masculine Latin adjective meaning 'happy'. The new species is so named in reflection of the joy and happiness of the first author to get to work on the cophyline microhylid frogs of Madagascar."

Nothing in Particular

Blamada Lin & Holzschuh, 2013 (longhorn beetle) "The generic name is an arbitrary combination of letters." [Zootaxa 3640: 96]
Megachile pankus Bzdyk, 2012 (leafcutter bee) "The species name 'pankus' is a nonsense combination." [Zookeys 221: 53]

Particularly Apt

Colobopsis explodens Laciny & Zettel, 2018 (ant) To protect the next, some of the worker ants literally explode, releasing a toxic yellow goo from their abdomens. [ZooKeys 751: 1]
Solanum ossicruentum Martine et al. 2016 (bush tomato) The specific epithet means "bony-bloody", referring to fruits which stain blood red before maturity and mature to a dry, bony condition. The name was based on suggestions from middle school students in Lewisburg, PA. [PhytoKeys 63: 19]
Wunderpus photogenicus Hochberg, Norman & Finn, 2006 ("wunderpus" Indo-Malayan octopus) [Molluscan Research 26: 128]

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