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Slime-mold beetles named for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld

ITHACA, N.Y. -- U.S. President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may not all get a library, airport or highway named after them. But each has a slime-mold beetle named in his honor.

Two former Cornell University entomologists who recently had the job of naming 65 new species of slime-mold beetles named three species that are new to science in the genus Agathidium for members of the U.S. administration. They are A. bushi Miller and Wheeler, A. cheneyi Miller and Wheeler and A. rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler.

The entomologists also named some of the new species after their wives and a former wife, Pocahontas, Hernan Cortez, the Aztecs, the fictional "Star Wars" villain Darth Vader ("who shares with A. vaderi a broad, shiny, helmetlike head"), Frances Fawcett (their scientific illustrator) and the Greek words for "ugly" and "having prominent teeth" and the Latin word for "strange." Many of the other names they used for the recently described beetles were derived from various geographic locations, such as California, Georgia and a few states in Mexico, and for various distinguishing features they discovered on the beetles.

The decision to name three slime-mold beetles after Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, however, didn't have anything to do with physical features, says Quentin Wheeler, a professor of entomology and of plant biology at Cornell for 24 years until last October, but to pay homage to the U.S. leaders. "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," says Wheeler, who named the beetles and wrote the recently published monograph describing the new slime-mold beetle species while a professor at Cornell.

Wheeler is now the keeper and head of entomology at the Natural Histo
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Contact: Press Relations
pressoffice@cornell.edu
607-255-6074
Cornell University News Service
13-Apr-2005


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