Friday, July 13, 2012

You Know You're Cool When They Name A Fish After You

In a recent paper published in Ichthyoloigical Explorations of Freshwaters, Pethiyagoda et. al just went through the laborious task of teasing apart the tropical Asian cyprinid (i.e. small, colourful and pretty freshwater fish) named Puntius, a “catch-all” genus that comprised over 120 species. In this paper, the researchers delved into the relationships between these species as well as their morphological characteristics, organizing them into more detailed genuses (geni?). One genus was called Dawkinsia, in honor of the great (and not late!) Richard Dawkins.

Now I have always admired Dawkins’s intellect and his contribution to evolutionary biology, and am prone to defend him vehemently. Those who dislike what he has to say about religion and atheism fine, dislike it, but I always argue that despite him being more famous for that aspect of his career in the public, in scientific circles he has made an enormous contribution, and the two things should be considered separately. It tires me that most people only know him as the Atheist Boogeyman, because he is so much more than that.

Anyway, despite what I think, it’s pretty badass to have a fish genus named after you, especially when you’re still around to know about it. It is also infinitely cooler than naming the species after yourself, which some people are prone to do.

Anyway, I tip my metaphorical hat to you Mr. Dawkins! Hope to be reading more of your books soon enough.

Source: Pethiyagoda, R., Meegaskumbura, M., Maduwage, K. (2012). A synopsis of the South Asian fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae). Ichthyol. Explor. Freshwaters, 23:1 6

1 comment:

  1. In reference to your point of the (shameful) practice of naming a species after oneself, there was an entertaining case where an ichthyologist demanded that a catfish he'd found was named after him. The chap doing the classifying ended up calling it Corydoras narcissus.