Congratulations to Tristan Long from Waterloo Ontario on submitting the winning name Lapsias lorax. Visit our blog to find more about Tristan's entry and some of the other great names submitted.
Original Contest Details:
Do you have the perfect moniker for a newly discovered arachnid? Submit your entries here online or at the museum between May 22, 2011 to August 22, 2011 for your chance to win.
The first part of the name will be Lapsias, help us pick the second part. Note: we are looking for a one word name and two word names may be edited if selected.
One lucky participant will have a recently discovered species of jumping spider named after their suggestion. The winner will also receive a private tour of a spider research lab with Dr. Wayne Maddison- the scientific co-director and researcher who discovered the species in Ecuador!
The spider is a small adult male, about 5mm long. Like all jumping spiders, he has four big eyes on the front of his face, and four smaller eyes on top. He's mostly reddish brown except for his face, which has a big white band, and his jaws have striking diagonal yellowish stripes. No other known jumping spider has a face quite like this one.
In November of 2010 Dr. Wayne Maddison and three colleagues were in a cloud forest at 2000 metres elevation on the west slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, South America. They were looking for as-yet-undiscovered jumping spider species, in particular new species of lapsiine jumping spiders. Lapsiines are a strange group of jumping spiders known only from South and Central America -- only a handful of species are known.
As dusk was approaching, he shook moss-covered vines on a tree trunk, and onto his collecting sheet a little brown spider fell. He knew almost instantly it was a new lapsiine. His studies since have shown that it is a new species of Lapsias, the first known from western South America.
This new species now needs a formal scientific name and Dr. Maddison wants your suggestions.
How biologists name species:
Different languages use different names for species — cat in English, chat in French, and so on — but biologists have special formal names for species that are used universally in all languages — Felis catus, for instance. The first word (Felis) refers to the genus; the second word (catus) to the species. These are usually called "scientific names" or "Latin names", but in fact they aren't necessarily derived from the Latin language.
The biologist describing the species gets to choose the name. How do we formulate these scientific names? Here are some possibilities:
Descriptive names: These are usually based on Latin or Greek words, and describe something about the species, e.g. "maculatus" meaning spotted, "hirsutus" meaning hairy. These names should agree with the gender of the genus name. Since Lapsias is masculine, a descriptive species name should also be masculine, which means that it will usually end with "-us" (if feminine, it would usually end in "-a").
Names honouring people: Traditionally, to name a species in honour of a person, simple suffixes are added to the person's name. Thus, to honor someone named "Sen", the species names would be "seni" if the person was male, "senae" if the person was female. If it's named after two people named "Sen", the species name would be "senorum".
Names from other languages: It is permissible to import a name directly from a word in another language — the spider Galianora sacha uses the Quechua word "sacha" directly. This is usually not done with European words, as there is usually a closely related Latin or Greek equivalent that would be used instead.
Free-form names: Just to give you more freedom, it is possible to form species names from arbitrary combination of letters. The name should, however, form a word that is relatively easy to pronounce and treated as a word. Thus, "batinsa" would work, but "ttcgq" wouldn't.
Other things to consider: A name should not be intentionally offensive. If offensive, it could be thrown out by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (yes, there is such a group of people, and here is their rule book: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/). Also, it's a good idea that the word for the species looks good and sounds good when pronounced next to the name for the genus.
Complete Contest Rules and Regulations available here.