Friday, May 4, 2012

Name a Spider Contest

Published by WayneMaddison | Sat, 10/22/2011
Our Name a Spider contest was a resounding success.  We received 810 wonderful entries from all over Canada (and beyond).  It's exciting to see how many people want to help name a spider species!

Remember that the name of the spider would start with "Lapsias" and then end with the name suggested by our winning contestant, as in "Lapsias suggestedName".  Some of the suggested names described the spider's appearance.  A popular category was to translate "yellow mustache" into Latin or Greek.  But we also received suggestions from other languages: Sanskrit, Kichwa, Hindi, Tagalog, Spanish, and Garo.  Other names honoured people — one popular choice was to name the spider after the Vancouver Canucks hockey team or its players!

The winning name, when we saw it, jumped out as perfect for this spider species.  But before I tell you what it was, I want to mention three of our other favourite names.  First, there was the suggestion "Lapsias chamardor" from Nina Piggott, of Vancouver BC.  She explained as follows:

My 3 year old niece, Arden, came up with this name. When asked for a name for the spider, she threw her arms in the air and growled out "Chamardor!!" with a distinctive Klingon accent. A name we've never heard before!

"Chamar" is Portuguese verb for "call me " as in name me and D'or is French for "golden". So "call me golden" for the spider for the golden face..

Another one of our favourites was from Thomas C. of Vancouver, BC, who suggested "Lapsias wushu".  Here's his explanation:

The Chinese word wushu has two meanings: the first being to refer to martial arts collectively, the second to refer to a particular sport and fighting discipline that involves elegant gymnastic movements and aerial techniques.

The art of wushu is evident is such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I think the name would be well chosen since jumping spiders seem to me at least to move with great elegance and their jumping prowess is of course obvious. Furthermore, they are predatory spiders (but with finesse!) and as such their name should capture that.

Our third favourite-but-not-winner was "Lapsias xencofogus" from Dylan Jeffery Leung of William Van Horne Elementary School in Vancouver:

It should be called Lapsias xencofogus because there is no spider with a name that starts with X and I need to finish my Spider Alphabet Book.

We loved his explanation, but more that that, the name "xencofogus" is a beautiful sounding name.  And, actually, there are spiders whose names begin with "X".  One jumping spider from Fiji is called Xenocytaea; other from the Middle East and Africa is called Xuriella.  (Dylan, put those in your book!)

Finally, we come to the winner (drum roll please!):  Lapsias lorax, from Tristan Long of Waterloo, Ontario. 

picture of the  jumping spider Dr. Maddison discovered

Tristan explains: The yellow stripes on the spider remind me of the mustache of the Lorax character from the eponymous book by Dr. Seuss. As the book recounts the dangers to biodiversity of overdevelopment, I think that the name is very suitable.

The Lorax's message to preserve biodiversity, and his resemblance to the new spider, make his the perfect name for the new spider.  If Lorax had been his proper name, we would likely have used the form Lapsias loraxi (or, and I'm guessing here, Lapsias loraci), but the character is not Lorax, but rather The Lorax.  The fact that it's not his proper name gives us some freedom to use the world "lorax" directly.

And so, Lapsias lorax will be this spider, and it will speak for the trees.  Thank you, Tristan, and thank you to the other 809 of you!

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