Saturday, September 13, 2014

Phialella zappai

I told a story in class yesterday about a jellyfish named to honor Frank Zappa.  I think I first heard this story in graduate school in the late 1980s, and it was told to me as a funny little anecdote about the power of invertebrate systematics to bring together a talented musician and an admiring fan, who just happened to be a jellyfish expert.  I had forgotten the name of the genus, but now the entire rich tale has a life on the internet. And there are many examples of other species named after famous (and infamous) folk.  If you are thinking of developing your own expertise in a particular taxon and leveraging your power in giving names to new species you discover as a way to meeting up with your favorite celebrity, you will have to get familiar not only with your organism, but also with rules of taxonomic nomenclature.  What new species, or higher-level taxon (genus, family, order, etc) would you like to be able to name, and what would you name it?

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