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Purdue University Auctions Off Naming Rights of Bats

The world is an amazing place, with new species being discovered at practically every turn. Researchers at Purdue have recently come into posession of several newly-unearthed species of bats and turtles from Mexico, Africa, and Central and South America, but have decided to pass the naming savings onto the public. (Perhaps even you!) Why? This particular line of biological research isn't subject to an awful lot of publicity or funding, and high profile bidding can be an excellent way to raise the cash to take their research further.

The first widely reported case of taxonomy -the classifying of living organisms- pairing up with capitalism happened in 2005. An online gambling Web site paid the Wildlife Conservation Society $650,000 for the naming rights to a Bolivian monkey, beating out a bid by comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

Since then, a fish-naming auction in Monaco raised more than $2 million for conservation work in Indonesia, and the University of Florida took in more than $40,000 for naming a new species of butterfly after an Ohio grandmother.

This summer, the Scripps Oceanographic Museum in San Diego began hawking naming rights for several aquatic species, including a hydrothermal vent worm and a sea slug. Bids could start no lower than $5,000.

It's as excellent use of a few thousand dollars, and from kindly grandmothers to ironic comedians, you would be in good company. Besides, who wouldn't want to be immortalized through a species of African fruit bats? If you have the means, live the dream.

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