Well, HERE'S something we haven't talked about yet
Can't enough dough to support your research? How about selling the names of new taxa to the highest bidder?
From this article:
The German research body Patrons of Biodiversity offers a catalogue of frogs and flowers whose scientific naming rights are for sale. And closer to home, the California Academy of Sciences has offered business owners the chance to name one of 600 Madagascan ants after their respective companies: $10,000 bought a species, $25,000 an entire genus.
The academy kicked off its ant auction by naming one of the insects, free of charge, after a popular search engine: Proceratium google. Reactions to the commodification of taxonomy are mixed.
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature denounced Biopat's service as "a striking departure from scientific tradition" that could "irreversibly obscure science and hinder conservation efforts." F. Christian Thompson, a scientist at The Smithsonian, backed the concept as a valid means of supporting research but argued that "anything less (than $250,000) is just selling our science too cheaply."
Michael Swanwick included this very thing in his novel Bones of the Earth. At one point there was a mention of Exxonsaurus.
From what I've read, rainforest entomologists are considered young whippersnappers until they've named at least 100 new taxa, and once you're seasoned it is considered extremely gauche to even remember the exact number of new taxa that you've named (usually in the mid to high hundreds for productive workers). With all the names flying around I am tempted to say, "Rock on!" but I can't help thinking that the taxonomy
Do you have to give the money back if the taxon you named for Corporation X gets sunk?
Or suppose you name a new species after CorpX, but later it is elevated to the rank of genus. Can you hit them up for more money? Sounds ridiculous, but you could have such a clause added to the contract, I suppose.
If someone will just point me to the big leather and mahogany office where you sell out, we'll see how much my righteous indignation is really worth.
Hat tip to Dan Chure, who brought this to the attention of the Dinosaur Mailing List, and to Mike Taylor, who forwarded it to me.
The picture, by the way, is my youngest brother, Ryan, looking super-awesome on the Sinclair Brontosaurus (yeah, you heard me) in Hennessey, Oklahoma. And by 'super-awesome' I mean 'super-retarded'.