Monday, July 26, 2010

Renaming Endangered Species

The Queen's Executioner  via
Can giving endangered species more common English names help save them? That was the idea behind the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s "Name a Species" competition.

Would you be more interested in and more likely to remember a beetle if it was named megapenthes lugens or if it was called the Queen’s executioner?

The competition invited the public to give popular names to ten species of endangered British beetle, bees, jellyfish, shrimps and lichens. The competition itself was one way to get people thinking about the species, and perhaps they will be more familiar.

Among the winning names picked from the three thousand entries received were:
  • skeetle, a beetle that escapes predators using natural ‘jet skis’  stenus longitarsis
  • sea piglet, a deep-sea ‘pseudo shrimp’  arrhis phylonyx
  • kaleidoscope jellyfish, which is a beautiful stalked jellyfish
  • St John’s jellyfish, which takes the shape of a Maltese cross
  • Mab’s lantern, a rare spotted beetle
  • cuckoo bee, which lays its eggs in the nest of other bees
  • blue pepper-pot beetle, whose larvae live in willow trees
  • witches’ whiskers lichen, which have medicinal properties
  • pixie gowns lichen, which turn green when wet
  • And, the overall winner is the Queen’s executioner, a beetle found only in Windsor Great Park megapenthes lugens. The common name's creator, in a statement accompanying his entry, gave the following rationale for his choice of name: "I've gone with this for the link to Windsor and the royals. The executioner is to represent that it kills (and eats) the larvae of others and also links to its black colour (the hood of an executioner is traditionally black)."[10]


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