There are sometimes people names in taxonomy, like Myotis keenii was names after Mr. Keen who contributed to discover the species. So, if you discover a species and someone else is constructing the scientific name and names you, it's clear. But when you discover a species and you publish it in a paper, can you propose a scientific name that contains your name? Has it ever happened, or is it considered an unhealthy practice?


1 Answer 1


The answer is that in general, self-naming is severely frowned upon in the scientific community, but the act itself is not disallowed.

There have been at least two instances of self-naming recorded in literature, as stated in John Wright's book The Naming of the Shrew, page 34, where Jules Bourguignat named a species of snail after himself as Ferussacia bourguignatiana. The naming was apparently very poorly received (being referred to as taxonomic onanism), although I was unable to confirm this by locating the original citation.

Another example was given in the book on Sigismund Hochenwarth who named a species of moth (now Syngrapha hochenwarthi) after himself (original citation here).

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  • $\begingroup$ So, effectively, no? $\endgroup$
    – Siyuan Ren
    May 24, 2015 at 1:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SiyuanRen Pretty much, you can if you want, but it will lead to you being ridiculed by the community. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    May 24, 2015 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Tomas Isn't this answer enough for you, please mark it as accepted. $\endgroup$
    – Berne
    Jun 11, 2015 at 21:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Taxonomic onanism" is a great term. $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2015 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ As this example shows, it's not terribly uncommon to name a species after a family member. Linnaeus, for example, named the plant genus Linnaea after his wife. $\endgroup$ Jul 14 at 17:49

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