Nature and Biodiversity

You can now pay to name 12 new plant and animal species

A salamander swims in an aquarium at Mexico City's National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM ) laboratory June 10, 2009. Scientists are genetically modifying a bizarre looking Mexican salamander, which according to ancient mythology is a transformed Aztec god, in the hope its ability to regenerate body parts will one day help human amputees. Also known as "water monsters," the half-foot-long (15-cm-long) axolotl is nearly extinct in its only remaining habitat: the polluted vestiges of Aztec canals that snake though southern Mexico City, packed with colourful boats carrying tourists and mariachi musicians. Picture taken June 10, 2009. REUTERS/Felipe Leon (MEXICO HEALTH SCI TECH) - GM1E56I096301

Naming rights to 12 newly discovered species will be auctioned. Image: REUTERS/Felipe Leon

Kristin Hunt
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When scientists uncover a brand new shark or sloth, they usually get to name the animal, too. But now, anyone can claim naming rights to an entire species — provided they have cash to spare.

This week, the Rainforest Trust will open bidding on the naming rights to 12 new plant and animal species, with all proceeds going towards conservation work around the globe. Interested bidders can choose from eight animals and four orchids, all starting at a minimum $10,000.

The first of the lot is a frog from the rainforests of Ecuador. According to the info on Freeman’s, the auction house hosting this event, the amphibian has a “distinctive” call and “soulful blue eyes” that pop against its yellow-brown skin. The rights to its name start at $15,000.

Image: Freeman's

Next up is a Colombian orchid with “flame-like orange and rose-colored petals” and dotted green leaves. It also starts at $15,000.

But you’ll have to put up even more money for the third lot, a forest mouse from Ecuador. This mouse has fuzzy gray fur and enormous whiskers, and is the only mammal featured in the auction. That ups the opening price to $20,000.

The next frog was discovered just months ago on expedition. The Colombian creature looks like it’s wearing a leopard print robe, given the yellow and brown splotches all over its body. This frog has a “loud chirping call” and it’ll cost you a minimum $15,000 to name it.

Freeman’s describes the fifth species, another Colombian orchid, as a “ray of sunshine” that resembles “two slices of a peach framing a bright magenta column with yellow petals.” It’s priced at $15,000.

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Then there’s the salamander from Panama. This little amphibian’s a climber, one whose coloring shifts from reddish-orange to brown with silver streaks as it ages. It also starts at $15,000.

The next rainforest frog is a green guy with yellow spots. This animal calls Colombia home, and goes for $15,000.

The auction returns to orchids with a specimen from Ecuador featuring a “subtle yellow interior” and “unexpected, olive oil-like odor.” This one also opens with a $15,000 bid.

The ninth species is an Ecuadorian ant known for its quick jaw. The bug’s “mandible opens 180 degrees and snaps shut at some of the fastest speeds ever recorded” — so fast, in fact, that the ant can use its jaw to catapult away from danger. This unique creature’s naming rights go for $10,000.

The final frog is a bug-eyed Panama native with muddy red skin. You can name it for a minimum $10,000.

The last orchid comes courtesy of Colombia, and its big selling point is the unusual green petals. You can snap its name up for $15,000.

Closing out the auction is a “legless amphibian” that kinda looks like a snake, but somehow isn’t a reptile. This shiny species from Panama starts at $10,000.

The auction is slated to begin on Thursday, Nov. 8. Interested bidders can check out the lots online at Freeman’s, and bid through Dec. 8. All “sales” will go directly towards preserving the habitats of these species, and hopefully save them from extinction.

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