Dermophis donaldtrumpi

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Dermophis donaldtrumpi is a proposed species of caecilian – a nearly-blind, serpentine amphibian – to be named after Donald Trump. It was originally discovered in Panama and is yet to be confirmed as a new species; as of November 2019, the binomial name has not been formally published. It was given its name after the Rainforest Trust held an auction for the naming rights. The company EnviroBuild won the auction and named the species in protest against Trump's environmental policies and views.[1]

Description[edit]

Dermophis donaldtrumpi is about 10 cm (4 in) long, shiny, slippery, and slimy, with the appearance of a large worm. It is a burrowing species, living almost entirely underground.[2][3][4] It is nearly blind, with its eyes only able to detect light and dark, so it uses a pair of tentacles near its mouth in order to find prey; it also has an extra layer of skin which its young can eat after peeling it off.[2]

According to the Rainforest Trust, amphibians such as D. donaldtrumpi are vulnerable to extinction due to being exceptionally sensitive to the results of global warming.[3]

Naming[edit]

In December 2018, the Rainforest Trust completed an auction of naming rights for twelve newly discovered species of South American plants and animals,[5] the money going towards the conservation of the species' habitats.[3] The sustainable building materials company EnviroBuild paid $25,000 for the right to name the new amphibian.[6]

Aidan Bell, owner of EnviroBuild, stated that he named the species after Trump to raise awareness of Trump's policies on climate change and the danger that he sees those policies pose to the survival of many species. Referring to the creature's "rudimentary eyes which can only detect light or dark", Bell said that "Capable of seeing the world only in black and white, Donald Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese."[1][3][7][8] Daily Mirror also linked the creature's limited sight as "a feature that inspired it[s] name."[9] According to the Washington Post, "The naming choice highlights the president’s dismal approval ratings worldwide and is clearly designed to belittle him."[10]

Bell also related the caecilian's instincts when nurturing young to what he claims as Trump's nepotism: "The dermophis genus grows an extra layer of skin which their young use their teeth to peel off and eat, a behaviour known as dermatrophy. [sic] As a method of ensuring [his] children survive in life Donald Trump prefers granting them high roles in the Oval Office."[1] Dermatotrophy, a form of parental care in which the young feed on the skin of its mother, has been scientifically observed in other species of caecilians, such as Boulengerula taitana.[11]

EnviroBuild further connected the amphibian's nature to burrow underground with more of the president's policies: “Burrowing its head underground helps Donald Trump when avoiding scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change".[9] The company also noted that he had "appointed several energy lobbyists to the Environment Agency, where their job is to regulate the energy industry.”[9]

The process of naming this species has garnered significant controversy among researchers and conservationists; some have pointed out the conservation benefits of the money donated to name the species, while others have criticized the idea of donating to name a new species, as many of the donors had no involvement with the studies undertaken to describe the species. In particular, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences researcher Christian Kammerer sees the facetious name of the amphibian as "just mean to the creature". [12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Was a Newly-Discovered Species of Amphibian Given the Name 'Dermophis Donaldtrumpi'?". Snopes.
  2. ^ a b Robertson, Michelle (December 18, 2018). "Blind, worm-like amphibian named after Donald Trump". SFGate. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Carrington, Damian (December 18, 2018). "Blind creature that buries head in sand named after Donald Trump". The Guardian. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  4. ^ "Business mocks Donald Trump by naming a 'blind,' wormlike animal after him". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Julia (December 6, 2018). "Want to Name a New Frog? A Whiskered Mouse? An Orchid? Be the Highest Bidder". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  6. ^ Antram, Alex. "Species Legacy Auction is a Resounding Win for Wildlife Conservation". Rainforest Trust. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  7. ^ Bell, Aidan (December 18, 2018). "EnviroBuild name an amphibian in honour of Donald Trump's commitment to environmental issues". EnviroBuild. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Daughtery, Owen (December 18, 2018). "Blind amphibian that buries head in sand named after Trump". The Hill. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Best, Shivali (December 19, 2018). "Blind amphibian that loves burrowing head in sand is named after DONALD TRUMP". Daily Mirror. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "A blind, wormlike amphibian that burrows underground has been named after Donald Trump". December 19, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Wilkinson, Mark; Nussbaum, Ronald A.; Greven, Hartmut; Jared, Carlos; Antoniazzi, Marta M.; Müller, Hendrik; Kupfer, Alexander (April 2006). "Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian" (PDF). Nature. 440 (7086): 926–929. Bibcode:2006Natur.440..926K. doi:10.1038/nature04403. hdl:2027.42/62957. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 16612382.
  12. ^ Montanari, Shaena; Montanari, Shaena. "Letting the public name a newly discovered species could go horribly wrong". Quartz. Retrieved May 18, 2019.