Happy Presidential Species Week

In this month of major presidents' birthdays, Connie Tomlinson shared with us her photo of a majestic Roosevelt elk in North Bend, Washington, the home state of Olympic National Park. The park was established as Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909 by the elk's namesake, President Theodore Roosevelt, to protect the elk, which were in steep decline because of widespread logging. Scientifically known as Cervus canadensis roosevelti, the Roosevelt elk is the largest of four sub-species of elk in North America, weighing up to 1,100 pounds. It's one of a number of animal species that bear the names of U.S. presidents, ranging from a wasp named for George Washington (Heterospilus washingtoni) to a crustacean named for FDR (Neomegamphopus roosevelti) to a beetle named for George W. Bush (Agathidium bushi). 

Photo shared with The Naturalist's Notebook by Connie Tomlinson

Teddy Roosevelt (seven species) and Barack Obama (nine, including a spangled darter fish and a Western striolated puffbird) head the list of presidents with the most animal species named for them. With thousands of new living species of all types (not just animals) discovered each year, it's not uncommon for scientists to borrow names for them from famous people. You could have fun traveling the world to try to find the meat-eating jungle plant named for Helen Mirren, the Australian horse fly named for Beyonce, the lemur named for John Cleese, the rabbit named for Hugh Hefner or a fossil of the swamp-dwelling prehistoric animal named for Mick Jagger because of its large lips.

Just for the record, in January of this year, scientists named a newly discovered species of micro-moth found in Southern California "Neopalpa donaldtrumpi," because the yellowish-white scales on its head resembled the new president's hair—and, more important, to call attention to its fragile habitat and what one of the scientists called the "the neglected micro-fauna component of the North American biodiversity."

By: Craig Neff