17th July 2010
The Queen’s Executioner, sea piglet and witches’ whiskers were previously only known as Megapenthes lugens, Arrhis phylonyx and Usnea florida, respectively. They now join the ranks of the more familiar shepherd’s purse, swallowtail and foxglove, now having popular names that describe their characteristics.
|The newly named Queen’s Executioner!|
Thousands of people submitted entries in response to the Name a Species competition organised by Natural England, The Guardian and The Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The competition invited the public to give popular names to 10 species of British beetle, bees, jellyfish, shrimps and lichens, all of which are endangered and all of which have until now been listed only in Latin. Of the ten species, eight were invertebrates.
The competition follows the earlier publication by Natural England of Lost life - a report that showed that 430 species have become extinct in England in the last 200 years – and the subsequent call by George Monbiot, author and Guardian comment writer, for a competition to enable the public to become more familiar with the species that we are in danger of losing.
|The beautiful Kaleidoscope jellyfish|
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 winning names announced today are:
- Skeetle (Stenus longitarsis): A beetle that escapes predators using natural “jet skis”
- Sea piglet (Arrhis phylonyx): A deep-sea “pseudo shrimp”
- Queen’s executioner (Megapenthes lugens): A distinctive “clicking” beetle found only in Windsor Great Park, it feeds on the larvae of other insects
- Blue pepper-pot beetle (Cryptocephalus punctiger): A rare leaf beetle whose larvae live in willow leaves
- Scabious cuckoo bee (Nomada armata): A “cuckoo bee” that lays its eggs in the nests of other bees
- Kaleidoscope jellyfish (Haliclystus auricula): A beautiful stalked jellyfish
- St John’s jellyfish (Lucernariopsis cruxmelitensis): A tiny 1cm jellyfish, in the shape of a Maltese cross
- Witches’ whiskers lichen (Usnea florida): A lichen with medicinal properties
- Pixie gowns lichen (Peligera venosa): A lichen that turns green when wet
- Mab’s lantern (Philorhizus quadrisignatus): A very rare four spotted ground beetle
Today’s 10 new species names were selected from over 3,000 entries by a panel of four judges: Tony Mitchell-Jones of Natural England, Dr George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Buglife's Chief Executive, Matt Shardow and George Monbiot author and Guardian columnist.
|Buglife's Matt Shardlow, George Monbiot, George McGavin and Tony Mitchell-Jones hard at work judging the competition entries|
Dr Tew continued: “The continued decline of biodiversity in England is a seriously worrying issue as every species matters - from the newly named sea piglet to the more familiar hedgehog. Biodiversity is the foundation of our own existence and we cannot afford to take it for granted, which is why we are getting the issue out from under the microscope and into the limelight.”
Dr George McGavin, of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, said: “People really entered into the spirit of the competition and we had some great names to choose from.”
|The Blue pepper-pot beetle|
George Monbiot, writer and journalist from The Guardian, said “Judging this competition was both a lot of fun and very tough, as the standard was so high. 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. By striking a light in the public imagination, I believe these names will make a major contribution towards conserving these species.”
The newly named species – alongside their winning names - will be on display at an exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
For full details of the winning entries and runners up click here