PHILADELPHIA He's not well known like President Bush and musician Neil Young, but Philadelphian Frank Gallagher now has something in common with them: He has a new species named after him.
Gallagher was The Academy of Natural Sciences' affable mailroom supervisor for 37 years before retiring in 2003. "They used to call me 'the grapevine,'" said Gallagher, because he not only distributed the mail to the staff but also passed along the latest gossip. Now he is the inspiration for Rhinodoras gallagheri, a new species of catfish described by Academy fish scientist Dr. Mark Sabaj Prez in the March issue of Copeia.
New species often are named for prominent scientists, generous benefactors or even spouses. A biologist recently named a new trapdoor spider after popular singer-songwriter Neil Young. A few years ago an entomologist named a new slime-mold beetle after the president. Rarely, if ever, has a new species been named for a postman.
"I wanted to honor Frank for his many years of dedicated service to the global community of taxonomists and systematists in handling the shipping and receiving of countless loans of biological specimens," said Sabaj Prez, who manages the Academy's collection of 1.3 million fish. "I was impressed by Frank's dedication, his love for fellow employees, and his keen interest in the science we do. I simply thought, here is a guy who should be honored with his own catfish."
The Academy's Ichthyology Collection is one of the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, with 2,800 primary types. (A type is an original specimen from which the description of a new species is made.) The collection is an invaluable reference to researchers around the world who contact Sabaj Prez for access to specimens and data.
Rhinodoras gallagheri, commonly known the Orinoco thicklip catfish, occurs in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela and Colombia. It is a secretive fish that hides during the day in hollow
|Contact: Carolyn Belardo|
The Academy of Natural Sciences