UnDisciplined: Should species be named after horrible people?
When an Austrian bug collector discovered a new species of beetle in the 1930s, he bestowed upon it the name of a person he greatly admired. He called it Anophthalmus hitleri — and sent Adolf Hitler a note announcing the onomastic tribute. That was nearly 90 years ago. And for most of that time, biologists have treated this beetle’s name with a shrug. But some scientists are growing uncomfortable with the number of species that are named for really horrible people, and wondering why anything that isn’t human should be named in this way to begin with. Others reckon that what’s done is done. But Christopher Bae thinks that’s an indolent and irresponsible approach.