Preserve your name in history with a lichen naming bid

Ever wondered what it would be like to have a new living species named after you? Well now you can thanks to the new trend of species auctions.

Scientist, Trevor Goward curator of lichens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, discovered new lichens deep in the British Columbia rainforests. As a way of generating funds for the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) and The Land Conservancy (TLC) both based in Victoria, British Columbia, Goward decided to auction off the naming rights for the lichens he had discovered.

Lichen (pronounced li’ken) is described as a dual organism consisting of a fungus and an alga which lives on rocks, tree branches, or bare ground.

According to scientific protocol, the person who discovers a new species has the rights to give it its scientific name. However not all of us are lucky enough to discover them so Mr Goward chose to auction off the naming rights in order to raise money. Goward said “Having your name linked to a living species is a legacy that lasts…Putting my new species up for auction for this highly-deserving environmental organization allows me to give something back to my home province.”

Wildlife artist Anne Hansen bid $4,000 for the right to name one of Goward’s discovered species ‘kockiana’ in memory of her husband, University of Guelph horticulturist Henry Kock, who passed away in 2005. The highest bidder then wins the right to name the new lichen whatever they want, even President Barack Obama has a lichen named after him (Caloplaca obamae), if he can have one why can’t you!

This new lichen auctioning trend seems to the thing of the future with many of us wanting to preserve our name forever. It probably won’t even be long before a piece of lichen will be on everyone’s Christmas list! Goward said “I believe that future auctions of this kind will garner even more support as Canadians – and others – awaken to the honour of being linked, if only in name, to other species that share this planet with us”. So how much will you be prepared to bid to have your name preserved in scientific history forever?

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