The Taliban Beetle, a specimen at the Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Switzerland.
Meet the Taliban Beetle.
I took this picture in 2004 while visiting the collections at the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland.Â For reasons I was unable to discern, a coleopterist working in the collection in the late 1990's had intended to name this new Afghani ground beetle after the country's ruling party at the time.Â Whether he came to regret this decision in the post 9/11 world, I do not know.
No formal description of the Taliban beetle was ever printed.Â So despite the official looking type label, the species Pterostichus talibani does not officially exist. It is just a shadowy specimen in a museum drawer, an unrealized idea biding its time in the darkness.
You may draw your own parallels- or lack thereof- to today's Taliban.
***update*** Commentator JesÃºs did some sleuthing and found a formal description for the species. It's official, after all.Â Damn Taliban.
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juicy post! political intrigue....and beetles!
Hmm, perhaps the females of this species, too, are uneducated, veiled and kept in the nest?
And lol, some very nice habitat this species has:
Hopefully your new president doesn't get nervous breakdown for all the impossible tasks that are left for him to handle. :(
By the way, I've found a formal description of the bettle (and other related species) following this link: http://leb.daba.lv/37-s1.pdf
Two new and notes on one previously known species of subgenus Asioplatysma Kryzhanovskij (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Pterostichus) from Afghanistan
Florian Savich. 1999. Latvijas Entomologs 37, pp. 6-13.
It is a valid name then. I'll be dammed!
Now the real question is, if you put Pterostichus talibani specimens in a jar together with Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi, and Agathidium rumsfeldi specimens, who will eat who?
Thanks JesÃºs! So it was described after all.
Alex, your blog (along with its many fascinating comments) brightens my day. How do you find this stuff? Keep up the good work. XXXMom
Speaking of brightening the day, among the links, I particularly liked this one: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/17/pakistan.girl.poet/ about an 11 year old Afghan girl poet.
Not normally one to invoke deity, I am simply compelled in this case to say, "May the gods be with her!"
There is a delicious irony that the species are distinguished by genitalic characters. Perhaps the author was making a subtle dig at the distorted hyper-prudery of the Taliban?
Unfortunately, there is no derivatio nominis in the descriptions - the motivation for the dedications would have been enlightening :).
However, such things happen now and then, and there is no way of getting this undone should you regret your decision later. In the collection of our museum there is the holotype of "Anophthalmus hitleri", described in the mid 30's ...