[Taxacom] Neil Evenhuis's new species, Phthiria relativitae

Robin Leech releech at telusplanet.net
Fri Jul 27 23:13:11 CDT 2007

Hi Ken and others,

The article is on page 17 of the August 2007 issue of Discover Magazine.
It reads, including title:

Phthiria relativitae, n. Pronunciation: \theory o'relativity\
When Neal Evenhuis, entomologist, at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii,
identified a new species of be fly from the American Southwest ascribed
to the genus Phthiria, he couldn't resist having a little fun.  In deciding
on a species name, he recalls, "I thought, well, what can I do that would
go with Phthiria -- I' thinking, gravitae?  But then I thought of relativitae, 
because I could do a Latin etymology for it: 'relating to life.'
So I got Phthiria relativitae out of that."  The next challenge was to find a 
jrnal willing to publish the name, making it an official part of the taxonomic 
record.  "When you do something like that," Evenhuis says, "sometimes 
the reviewers or editor may not have a sense of humor."
So Evenhuis decided to send Phthiria relativitae overseas, where the 
English-language jokes could fly under the radar.  "I submitted it to a
Polish journal and they published it, no questions asked," he says.

That is the entire article, but there is a picture of the fly given.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken Kinman" <kinman at hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 8:42 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neil Evenhuis's new species, Phthiria relativitae

> Doug,
>    I believe that the Oligodranes species you are thinking of is another 
> humorous name, Oligodranes humbug Evenhuis, but it is now Apolysis humbug 
> (Evenhuis).  The species Phthiria relativitae Evenhuis was apparently 
> reassigned to another genus by Evenhuis himself about a year after he named 
> it, and is apparently still called Poecilognathus relativitae (Evenhuis, 
> 1985).
>     However, the name Phthiria relativitae apparently appears in the August 
> 2007 issue of Discover, but I don't know the context in which it was 
> discussed.
>   ----Cheers,
>          Ken Kinman
> *********************************
>>From: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
>>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neil Evenhuis's new species, Phthiria relativitae
>>Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 15:43:41 -0700
>> >  > Neil Evenhuis described a new spcies of bee fly
>> >>  (Bombyliidae) from the US Southwest.  It is named
>> >>  Phthiria relativitae, n.sp.  Pronounced Theory O'
>> >  > Relativity.
>>That was back in 1985; the species is no longer in the genus
>>Phthiria, unfortunately - it is now in Oligodranes, as I recall. All
>>of those sorts of names are either on my home page
>>(http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html) or linked there (e.g.,
>>Phthiria relativitae is cited at
>>Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
>>Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
>>phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
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