Usually, if you want to name an animal, you need to discover it, and then go through a complicated process to get the critter officially named and accepted.
Well, now you can skirt all of those complications – and the rigmarole of studying entomology – by partaking in an auction on eBay. The winner will get the honour of naming a species of moth that was discovered eight years ago.
Entomologist Eric H. Metzler discovered the moth, which weighs less than 30 grams and measures only 3 centimetres. The Western National Parks Association (WNPA) helped fund some of Metzler’s research, and now he wants to give something back, as the proceeds from the auction will go to the WNPA.
On Saturday the auction went live at a starting bid of $500 (R6 266). Since then 30 bids have come in with the leader sitting at $5 10 (R66 974).
The winning bidder will get to name the moth with the help of Metzler (including creating the Latin, scientific variant) which will then need to be accepted by a peer-review process. This may throw out the hopes of those wanting to name the creature after a phallus, or some other such “funny” body part. The scientific name will be attributed to the winner and will be “recognized(sic) in perpetuity by future generations of scientists”.
They will also receive: a moth (a specimen will be kept at the Smithsonian Institute which they may visit), a framed photo of the beloved insect, official documentation signed by Metzler and recognition at WNPA’s Annual Board Reception on November 19th. Travel and lodging excluded.
There’s a little piece of fine print at the bottom of the auction page which may frustrate those who expect speedy delivery of their prize: “It may take 6 months to 1 year for the chosen name to be officially documented through the Commission of Zoological Nomenclature.” While the winner may have avoided spending years studying thoraxes and mandibles, they will need to spend some time waiting to be etched into the science books.”