Exterminate the brutes

I was trying to sell a radio programme on the way that scientists are just vanishing from the world the other day, and ran up against an unexpected problem: my prospect thought that this was no bad thing, and they deserved it. Here‘s some evidence that she may be right: a list of species named after Tolkein characters:

Aletodon mellon (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammal) “mellon,” Elvish for “friend,” was the password into Moria.
Ancalagon Conway Morris, 1977 (Cambrian priapulid) From a dragon from Tolkien.
Ankalagon Van Valen, 1980 (Paleocene mesonychid mammal) Renamed from Ancalagon because it was preoccupied.
Anisonchus eowynae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of A. athelas Van Valen 1978) for Éowyn, Princess of Rohan. “Athelas” was a Middle Earth healing plant.
Bomburia Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) for Bombur.
Bubogonia bombadili and Protoselene bombadili Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammals) after Tom Bombadil.
Claenodon mumak (Van Valen, 1978) (Paleocene mammal) after Mûmak, the Middle Earth elephant
Deltatherium durini Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) Several notable Dwarves were named Durin.
Earendil Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Mimatuta Van Valen, 1978) for Eärendil, father of Elrond.
Elachista amrodella, E. aredhella, E. caranthirella, E. curufinella, E. daeronella, E. diorella, E. finarfinella, E. gildorella, E. indisella, E. maglorella, E. miriella, E. turgonella (Kaila 1999) (moths) Named after elves from Tolkien, respectively: Amrod (Amras’ twin), Aredhel (The White Lady of Gondolin), Caranthir, Curufin, Daeron (Chief loremaster of Doriath), Dior (King of Doriath), Finarfin (Noldor King in Aman), Gildor Inglorion (High-Elf of Eriador & Imladris), Indis, Maglor, Miriel, Turgon (Lord of Nevrast, then Gondolin). Kaila mentions that Elves “one after other sailed over the water to the West, and were later difficult to see with human eyes,” alluding to the studied moths, which are very inconspicuous and have spread to Nearctic areas. [Acta Zool. Fennica 211]
Fimbrethil ambaronae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Oxyacodon agapetillus (Cope 1884)) Fimbrethil was an Ent-maiden; Ambaróna was a name for the Ents’ forest.
Gollum (shark)
Gwaihiria Nauman (diapriid wasp) Named for Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.
Litaletes ondolinde Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) for Ondolind&emul;, an Elven city.
Macrostyphlus frodo Morrone, 1994 (Andean weevil)
Macrostyphlus gandalf Morrone, 1994 (Andean weevil) [This and M. frodo are from American Museum Novitates 3104: 1-63.]
Mimotricentes mirielae Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Loxolophus hyattianus (Cope, 1885)) after Míriel, an Elf.
Mimatuta morgoth Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) for the “dark enemy of the world.”
Mimatuta minuial Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) “minuial” is Elvish for dawn’s twilight.
Mithrandir Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) one of the names of the wizard Gandalf.
Niphredil radagasti Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal, now in genus Paleotomus) Niphredil is a small Middle Earth flower. Radagast the Brown was a wizard.
Oxyprimus galadrielae Van Valen, 1978 (arctocyonid Paleocene mammal) for elf Lady Galadriel.
Pericompsus bilbo Erwin (carabid) for the title character of The Hobbit. So called because “it was short, fat, and had hairy feet.”
Platymastus palantir Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) The palantír was a magical viewing stone.
Protungulatum gorgun Van Valen, 1978 (Paleocene mammal) “gorgûn” is a term for Orcs.
Smeagol Climo, 1980 (gastropod, family Smeagolidae) Another name for Gollum.
Smeagolia Hedqvist, 1973 (pteromalid wasp)
Syconycteris hobbit (moss-forest blossom bat)
Thangorodrim thalion Van Valen (Paleocene mammal, synonym of Oxyclaenus Cope 1884) Thangorodrim are the three tallest towers of Endor; Thalion is a character from Tolkien’s Silmarillion.
Tinuviel Van Valen (Paleocene mammal) for a most beautiful elf. The name is Elvish for nightingale.

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1 Response to Exterminate the brutes

  1. Rupert says:

    Well, biology’s barely a science anyhoo, especially the sort that goes looking for moss-forest blossom bats. (You’d have thought that a moss-forest blossom bat would have no need for anything further in the nomenclature way – finding that such a thing exists has made my day).

    Compare and contrast the names of asteroids . Astronomy is a Real Science, in the same way that space opera is Real Science Fiction, and doesn’t attract the mystic questers after magic swords. Instead, you get names like

    Veritas, Mary, Hartpoorpeesdam Arizona, Symmetria, Frigga, Tianjin, Cheshirecat, Boulder, Imhotep, Poseidon, Latvia, Elvira, Douglas, Pittsburghia, Irene, Winchester, Jung and Mr Spock.

    An asteroid named Boulder. I like that.

    R

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