Unique Gift Idea: Name Your Own Bat Species

By Nina Bai | December 9, 2008 3:25 pm

batDiamond rings can get lost on the beach or fall down the drain. For something that truly lasts forever, consider naming a new species of bat after your sweetheart—or yourself.

Purdue University is holding an auction, just in time for the holiday season, to name nine newly discovered species, including seven bats and two turtles. The funds raised will go towards funding studies of the new species and conserving their natural habitats.

First up on the block is a real gem: the world’s tiniest bat. The little yellow creature is found from Mexico to Brazil and weighs less than a teaspoon of water. John Bickham, who helped discover the new species, explains the prize as follows: “The species name would look like: Rhogeessa (your name here). And fitting with the scientific protocols and the Latin descriptions for the genus and species, we would add an ‘i’ to the person’s name.”

Although the honor of naming a new species traditionally goes to the discoverer, Bickham is donating that right to the auction. In case you’re not sold yet, Bickham notes that bats make up nearly one-fourth of all mammals and they play essential roles as pollinators, seed dispersers, and pest controllers. The winning bidder will also get the chance to travel on a scientific expedition with the research team.

Alas, this auction isn’t for the everyman: Scientific immortality comes with a price. Similar auctions by other organizations have drawn $40,800 for naming a butterfly, $500,000 for naming a shark, and $650,000 for naming a monkey. For those on a tighter budget, there’s always the (cheesier) option of naming a star, which go for as low as $54.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Name That Species
DISCOVER: Pushing Phylocode, a new naming system?
80beats: Bats Are Dying from White Nose Mold, But Scientists Don’t Know Why
80beats: Bats’ Lungs Burst When They Fly Close to Wind Turbines

Image: Purdue University / John Bickham (Rhogeessa tumida, a relative of the new species)

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