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Nutty Nomenclature

Nutty Nomenclature

All species of organism are given their own specific name by the taxonomist who first describes them.  Every now and again the taxonomists allow themselves to have a little bit of fun.  This is our guide to some more mischievously named species.

Agathidium bushi

Don’t get it? Named in honour of the 43rd president of the USA. Also in the same group are
Agathidium cheneyi and Agathidium rumsfeldti. No sign of Condi though.

What is it?
A 3mm long beetle that only likes to live on slime molds. Lovely.

Where is it found? In the forests of Appalachian mountains.

When was it first named? 2005.

Who deserves the credit? Drs Kelly Miller and Quentin Wheeler both formerly of Cornell University but now in Florida and London respectively. Rumours that they were forced to flee Cornell by undercover government agents are as yet unfounded.

Agathidium vaderi, a slime mold beetle. Image: Byron Alexander.Is there a picture? We don't have a picture of George, Dick or Donald's beetles, but we can get close. The little fella to the right is Agathidium vaderi named after -
you've guessed it - Darth Vader because it has a broad, shiney, helmet-like head (click on the image to enlarge). Another species is called Agathidium pocahontasae, because it is particularly common in the area around Pocahontas, Virginia, a small town named for the Native American princess of Disney fame. Other species in the genus include A. akallebregma, meaning ugly face; A. iota, which is extremely small even for slime-mold beetles and A. gallititillo, which, slightly bizarrely, translates as French tickle.

Check out some other strangely named animals

Other regulars:
Phunny Phobias
Wednesday: Doctor Doctor
Thursday: Peculiar Periodicals
Friday: End of week timewasters

Title image: Martin Kessel/N
A. vaderi: Byron Alexander

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20 Jul 2017
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