Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Slime-Mold Beetle Leadership

[via Mom] Yes, it's a cheap, easy shot. But sometimes you gotta take the bait:
Two American entomologists have named three newly discovered species of slime-mold beetles after President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Lest anyone think that Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi and Agathidium rumsfeldi were named out of spite for Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, their nomenclators insist it's a sign of respect. "We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular," said former Cornell entomologist Quentin Wheeler, now the head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London.
One wonders what they would have done if it were a sign of disrespect. They had a few other beetles to name
The entomologists also named some of the new species after their wives and a former wife, Pocahontas, Hernan Cortez, the Aztecs, the fictional "Star Wars" villain Darth Vader ("who shares with A. vaderi a broad, shiny, helmetlike head"), Frances Fawcett (their scientific illustrator) and the Greek words for "ugly" and "having prominent teeth" and the Latin word for "strange." Many of the other names they used for the recently described beetles were derived from various geographic locations, such as California, Georgia and a few states in Mexico, and for various distinguishing features they discovered on the beetles.

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