When I wrote about a newly discovered species of spider that built large decoys of itself to scare off predators, readers responded with an astonishing array of suggested monikers. Clearly, this spider needed a name, one that portrayed both its uniqueness and creativity. (Related post: “What’s in an (Animal) Name?”)
Names can make a thing. The rusted-out hunk of junk I drove in high school and college took on an air of panache when my friend began referring to it as the Carriemobile. As for myself, I’ve been nicknamed “Care Bear” at least three totally independent times. (I’m hoping they were referring to my kindness and not a layer of fur that I couldn’t see.)
My cat was named Aria before I adopted her by a foster mom who noticed that she was a little diva. Aria doesn’t walk, she sashays. I thought about renaming her, but “Don’t pee on the rug, dammit” doesn’t have quite the same ring.
Naming an object is important. It’s something I think we all have experience with. A name can be a verbal shorthand—”decoy spider” is much easier to spit out than “a newly discovered species of spider that built large decoys of itself to scare off predators”—and it can also be a way to highlight an item’s unique characteristics. “Hey, you!” doesn’t always cut it.
Here are some of my personal favorites from reader suggestions for this newly discovered and wickedly cool spider:
- Mannequin spider
- Puppeteer or marionette spider
- David Copperweb
- Avatar spider
- Trojan horse spider
- Effigy spider
- Leonardo spider (after Leonardo da Vinci, who made a famous self-portrait)
If this spider is determined to be a new species, Phil Torres and those who first discovered it will have first choice in giving it a name, but I will definitely pass along these suggestions. Please feel free to share more in the comments below!
Carrie Arnold is a freelance science writer living in Virginia. When she’s not writing about cool critters, she’s spending time outside, drinking coffee, or knitting.