ITHACA, N.Y. – President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have shared a common political vision for most of their careers. Now they'll share something else -- a slime-mold beetle (search) named in his honor.
Two former Cornell University entomologists (search), who recently had the job of naming 65 newly discovered species of slime-mold beetles, named three species after the American leaders, dubbing them: Agathidium bushi Miller and Wheeler, Agathidium cheneyi Miller and Wheeler and Agathidium rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler.
According to rules established by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (search), the first word of a new species is its genus; the second word must end in "i" if it's named after a person; and the final part of the name includes the person or persons who first described the species.
Naming the beetles after Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld had nothing to do with physical features, but was intended to pay homage to them, said Quentin Wheeler, a former professor of entomology and plant biology at Cornell for 24 years until October.
"We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular," said Wheeler, now the head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London (search).
Wheeler and colleague Kelly B. Miller, now a postdoctoral fellow at Brigham Young University, published the names in the March 24 issue of the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (search).
Slime-mold beetles are named for the fungilike molds on which they feed. The entomologists collected and borrowed thousands of specimens of slime-mold beetles in order to study their evolution and classification. In so doing, they found more than five dozen new species never before described.
For anyone looking to hunt down one of the new slime-mold beetles, Wheeler said that Agathidium bushi has so far been found in southern Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia. Rumsfeldi and cheneyi are from south of the border in Mexico.