17 July 2010
Ten rare species get new English names.
Natural England’s name a species competition, launched three weeks ago with the Guardian and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is now closed; all the entries are in and the judges have now made their decisions!
Ten new names have been agreed for rare British species which until now have had only Latin names to describe them. Now, the sea piglet ( type of deepwater shrimp), the skeetle (a water-skiing beetle) and the Queen’s executioner (a larvae eating beetle found only in Windsor) will join the ranks of other more familiar English animal and plant names, in the hope that it will boost their chances of survival.
Dr Tom Tew, Chief Scientist for Natural England, said: “This competition set out to inspire the nation, drawing attention to a handful of declining species that have, until now, been without a common name. As a result, the public have let their imagination loose to come up with some wonderful naming suggestions to help put these forgotten species on the map.”
The ten new species names were selected from over 3,000 entries by a panel of four judges: Dr Tony Mitchell-Jones of Natural England, Dr George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Matt Shardow of Buglife and George Monbiot author and Guardian columnist.
“Judging this competition was both a lot of fun and very tough, as the standard was so high,” said Gerorge Monbiot, whose idea inspired the competition. “Our winners have not only given us names that are practical and distinctive, they have also captured the beauty, magic and mystery of England’s wildlife.”
Geoff Vincent of Cambridge came up with one of the winning suggestions, the scabious cuckoo bee. This bee, known as Nomada armata in Latin, lives on chalk grasslands where scabious flowers flourish and lays its eggs in the nests of other bees. “The idea of giving species memorable names to promote public interest in their preservation is superb,” said Mr Vincent on being notified of his success. “I'm sure that initiatives like this can help to shift attention onto the crucial issue of species and habitats that may be lost forever.”
The establishment of common names for species is not governed by strict conventions, rather they are based on what people come to use in everyday language. As a result of this competition Natural England, the Guardian and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History will promote the use of these names to give them the best chance of being adopted more fully. In addition Natural England is requesting that the UK Biodiversity Action Partnership adopt these names on their website.