Giving children names is exciting and all, but it is important to consider how they will feel when their name is shouted on the playground. But not so with species! You can name those suckers whatever you want and they will be none the wiser. The Guardian is holding a contest that lets readers indulge in this pleasure by coming up with common names for 10 British species. Past contests have yield such gems as “hotlips” for this labial-looking fungus and “sea piglet shrimp” for this fella.
This year the species on hand are mostly brown. The list includes not one but two sea slugs and lots of bugs. It is actually a travesty that Grist did not think of this idea first, because we are confident that Grist readers can come up with way funnier (and punnier) names than Guardian readers can. (Although, we admit, hotlips may be the best name for a fungus, ever.) We want to see at least one Grist reader’s name up in lights on the internet, so get to species-namin’! Here, from the Guardian, are helpful tips:
• Try to incorporate some combination of appearance, natural history, or location. For example, the species’ color or feeding habits
• Humor, word play, and cultural references are good when relevant, and names do not need to be direct Latin translations
• Names should ideally consist of two names, not including the taxonomic group name, for example beetle, lichen, shrimp (so three words in total). A good case needs to be made for longer ones
Let’s practice on this sea slug, the Akera bullata, shall we? There are several pictures here, which you will not be glad to have looked at. According to the Guardian, “When disturbed, it uses the fleshy protrusions you can see wrapped around its body to swim away — it can also squirt out a purple colored fluid from its glands.” And here’s a video of THAT action:
So far, we’ve got: Gonorrhea slug; sea pukumber; moldy eggplant slug; Grandpa’s chewing tobacco slug; gastroponcho; dancing foreskin slug; Fleshbot.
Any better ideas?