Nature Blog Network

Friday, March 13, 2009

Name that Decapod!

Going once!
Going twice!
Gone to the friend of the spineless in the red plaid pants!
So now sir, what are we going to call this fine new decapod species?

That could be you – ok, without the red plaid pants I hope!, but still...

A new species of shrimp was recently described from the waters off south western Australia. Ph.D. student Anna McCallum is auctioning off the rights to name the new species of shrimp from the Lebbeus genus.

The auction will occur on Ebay beginning at 9:00 a.m. on March 22 and end at 9:00 a.m. on March 31, 2009 Australian Eastern Standard time, which if I'm thinking straight today means from 6pm on the 21st to 6pm on the 30th US Eastern Standard (3pm to 3pm for Pacific). Proceeds from the auction will go to The Australian Marine Conservation Society, who is sponsoring the event at Ebay, to help protect the same area that the shrimp was found – south western Australia.

In addition to the right to provide the species name, the winer will also receive a signed painting of the new species by science illustrator and artist Mali Moir.

While I like this particular auction,I have mixed feelings about the practice in the general case. I wonder what everyone thinks about auctioning off naming rights (taxonomists especially feel free to chime in!).


  1. When I read the first few sentences, I felt a little uneasy at the idea.

    Then when I saw that it was for a conservation cause I was like "that's actually a really excellent idea - they should do that more often!"

    I'd bid if I had money...

  2. I totally thought that was a merry-go-round unicorn when I first opened the page.

    Great idea. It's a wonder (to me at least) that Anna's supervisor and, most of all, Anna's university's lawyers are allowing this. Similar suggestions at a little known Natural History Museum have not gone down so well.

  3. I think it's not up to scientists to raise funds for nature conservation. This is not our are of expertise. I think it's a political decision to conserve nature, and we're here to give sound advice on how to do just that.

    I find species name auctioning egocentric and unnecessary. Such nice words could be used to describe the species that could also help in identifying it, not just tagging a name.

  4. Glad to see that both sides are represented in the discussion. It has spurred quite a discussion on the Crustacean mailing list (no surprise) and halfway through the auction the bidding is up to AU $3,000.


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