Shakira's got one, JLo does too, and David Attenborough has an entire collection. They're just a few of the famous humans who've inspired the scientific names of new species. But now even mere mortals can get in on some of the fun – thanks to a scientist who's put the naming rights to his insect discovery up for sale.

moth naming auction_2015_10_20
Image: Western National Parks Association. Screenshot/eBay

The insect in the spotlight is a tiny, inch-long moth discovered in Mexico eight years ago by entomologist Eric H. Metzler from the Wedge Entomological Foundation. Instead of claiming the honour of naming the critter for himself, Metzler is allowing someone else to pay for the privilege – and directing the proceeds to the Western National Parks Association, who funded some of his research.

And if you're an enterprising entomologist who's looking to auction off the naming rights to your winged discovery, you turn to – where else – eBay.

moth naming eay_2015_10_20
Image: Western National parks Association. Screenshot/eBay

Now, before you get too excited about the prospect of pinning your surname on a new species or letting your creativity run rampant, let's bring things down to earth. As this Motherboard article points out, "you can't just name a new species anything" – the rules set out by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) are there to keep things nice and orderly. Of course, there's still room to get inventive (that's how some species land up with Hobbit-inspired names) – and as descriptive as possible.

“You’re either describing what it looks like, or where it came from,” Paolo Viscardi, a curator at University College London’s Grant Museum, tells Motherboard.

The winning bidder will get to work with Metzler to come up with just the right name for the tiny moth – and we're hoping its ghostly-pale coat will serve as inspiration: Gandalfus? Whitewalkerus? (Drop us a line, winning bidder, we've got plenty more where those came from.)

The auction ends on October 23, and you'd better have deep pockets: the bidding at the time of writing had reached $7,200. 

ht: Motherboard


Top header image: Western National parks Association