By Alex Quesnel
A new species of weevil found near Austin, Texas has been named Lymantes fowleri after Kevin Fowler, a country musician based in the area.
The scientist who chose the name is entomologist Dr. Robert Anderson, Director of the Centre for Species Discovery and Change at the Canadian Museum of Nature. A keen country music fan, Anderson considers Fowler an appropriate source for inspiration.
“He’s a proud Texan,” Anderson said. “He has a big ranch there and promotes environmental causes. So I thought this was a good opportunity to name something after him.”
While Fowler’s music has enjoyed regional success, it is not widely known at the national level — an appealing quality to Anderson.
“His music is traditional country rather than the modern pop country,” said Anderson. “He never compromised his musical interests to make it commercially acceptable. I admire that — it means he’s putting his morals ahead of popularity.”
Anderson first observed L. fowleri during his postdoctoral fellowship at Texas A&M University back in 1987. Over his career Anderson has named about 120 species of weevil, mostly after places, scientists, or characteristics of the organism.
None of them have been inspired by entertainment or media personalities until now.
“This is probably one of the most unique species I’ve named yet,” said Anderson.
At the Centre for Species Discovery and Change, Anderson and his colleagues have many responsibilities. One of them is taxonomy, the science of defining organisms by shared traits.
Any new proposal must abide by the International Code for Zoological Nomenclature, which sets rules for describing new species and making formal changes or additions to their names. A paper must then be submitted to a scientific journal, where it is peer reviewed by several colleagues.
While the ICZN requires the names to be in good taste, scientists are still permitted to use their imagination. In fact, the discipline might demand this level of creativity, since species diversity is higher in insects than any other group.
“New species of insects are being discovered and named on a regular basis,” said Anderson. “I think they’ve named about one million so far, but estimates are as high as 6 to 20 million total different species out there.”
There are more than 60,000 known species of weevil alone.
Anderson’s choice to name this particular weevil after Kevin Fowler has been approved by the musician’s management team, Triple 8 Management. But what do Anderson’s fellow scientists think of it?
“A friend of mine said that’s a cheap way to get free tickets,” he said. “I told him I’m hoping for backstage passes!”
Read more at: