- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Agathidium bushi - Indeed — not to mention Agathidium cheneyi and Agathidium rumsfeldi.

President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have some true fans in the insect world. Though they may not be quite on par with an airport or bridge, three species of beetles have been named for the trio.

This is no fly-by-night honor.

“We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular,” said Quentin Wheeler, chief entomologist for the Natural History Museum in London.

Mr. Wheeler, an American, recently discovered and named 65 new species of a certain fungus-loving beetle lurking in North America. He was assisted by Brigham Young University entomologist Kelly B. Miller.

The Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld bugs have their favorite haunts.

Mr. Wheeler said the Agathidium bushi inhabits southern Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia; Agathidium rumsfeldi is known from Oaxaca and Hidalgo in Mexico; and Agathidium cheneyi is known from Chiapas, Mexico.

After paying homage to the leaders, the researchers were left with 62 more nameless beetles.

Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Miller tapped into sources well beyond the Beltway. Official biological nomenclatures for the new beetle species include those named for the scientists’ wives and one ex-wife, Pocahontas, explorer Hernan Cortez, the Aztecs, “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader, and the states of California and Georgia.

The researchers published their findings in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

Other political heavyweights have received similar honors. Theodore Roosevelt, for example, has a deer, an elk and a lion named for him. Abraham Lincoln has a wasp and a rose in his name, and a pigeon and a water lily were named for Queen Victoria.

This is only the beginning, though.

Scientists have registered more than 1.5 million species since Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus established an orderly protocol for naming the planet’s flora and fauna in 1735. The more creative among the research set have drawn upon the names of actors, comedians, artists, puns, folklore, films and fictional characters for inspiration.

Even “Lord of the Rings” character Gollum has a shark named after him. There also is a moth for Betty Boop, a clam for Sputnik, a crab for Godzilla and an orchid for Dracula.

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