It has been reported that an entomologist who discovered a species of moth is auctioning the right to give it an official name, on eBay. Yes, it’s no joke. Eric H Metzler found a moth in New Mexico eight years ago, but it has only recently been acknowledged as a new species. eBay bidding currently stands at $7,100 (£4,581), with three days left on the auction.
The winner’s chosen name will have to be Latinised, and go through an approval process. The money raised from the auction will go to the Western National Parks Association, which funded Mr Metzler’s research. “I am not a rich man and I don’t have a lot of money to give to charity, but this is the way I could give them money in the form of service,” he said. “I could use my brains to help them.”
Guidelines issued by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature will also have to be followed.
However, there is still some room for creativity. Last month, botanist Dr Chris Martine wrote in a blog post for the Huffington Post that he and his students had named a new species of flora Solanum watneyi after Mark Watney, the lead role played by actor Matt Damon in Hollywood film The Martian. They did so because the fictional Mark Watney is a botanist.
“There hasn’t been anything like a Mark Watney hero botanist to draw attention to our branch of science in, well, ever,” wrote Dr Martine. “Scientist heroes are already unusual in Hollywood, but a space-deserted protagonist who studies plants as a profession is something extraordinary.”