GAINESVILLE, Fla. In an apparent first for butterflies, the Florida Museum of Natural History will auction the naming rights for a newly discovered species online to raise money for butterfly research.
University of Florida researchers George Austin and Andrew Warren discovered the new species of owl butterfly earlier this year. The discovery is significant because the species is large and colorful, and is the first butterfly from this group to be named in more than 100 years. Most newly discovered species are small and unremarkable because the more noticeable ones were discovered long ago.
It is extraordinarily uncommon for such a large, showy butterfly to have escaped detection until now, said Warren, a post-doctoral associate at the Florida Museums McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. This likely will be one of the last times such a large and beautiful butterfly is named.
In what is believed to be the first time naming rights for a new butterfly species have been auctioned online in North America, the winning bidder will determine the species name following the public auction at iGavel.com, which starts Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2.
We realized this striking discovery represents an exceptional opportunity to raise funds for continued research on Mexican butterflies, by allowing rights to the species-level name to be auctioned, said Austin, who is the McGuire Center collections manager.
Owl butterflies are some of the most familiar and best-known butterflies in the world due to their large size and striking wing eyespots. The new owl species belongs to the Opsiphanes group. It has a wingspan of about 4 inches and a beautiful orange color, and lives in the Sonoran Desert in northwestern Mexico.
Surprisingly, Austin came across the species while curating butterflies at the McGuire Center, which holds one of the worlds largest collections of Lepidoptera at more than 6 million specimens, and called W
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University of Florida