The strange ways we name new species and the politics involved is explained in Stephen Heard’s book Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider

Earth 20 May 2020

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Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider

Stephen B. Heard

Yale University Press

UNLIKE plastic dinosaurs, new species don’t arrive with names on their bellies. Assigning them a name, however, isn’t as easy as it might seem.

In Stephen Heard’s splendid new book, which is beautifully illustrated by Emily Damstra, he explains not only how species are named, but why some have odder names than others. Reasons people choose names can vary from seeking to honour a respected colleague, thank a patron, celebrate a loved one or, in some cases, mourn their death.

Metellina merianae, a spider, is one …

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