If you're still stuck for that perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, here's a thought: why not name a species of bat after them?
If that sounds like a good idea, Purdue University in Indiana might be able to help you out. The University is auctioning the naming rights to seven newly discovered bats, as well two turtles.
The little yellow bat in question: Rhogeessa brucewaynei has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Winning bidders will be able to link a relative, friend or themselves to an animal's scientific name for eternity.
The first of the nine auctions began on Monday, when the school put up for grabs the naming rights to a tiny gold and black insect-munching bat found in Central America.
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The winning bidder will be announced just before Christmas, said John Bickham, a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources who discovered or co-discovered the nine species.
He expects the auctions to attract wide interest, with the chance to include a person's Latinized name in a new species' scientific name - a tradition that dates to the mid-18th century.
'Unlike naming a building or something like that, this is much more permanent. This will last as long as we have our society,' he said on Monday.
Bickham said the first bat whose naming rights are up for auction is a member of the Rhogeessa group of small yellow bats that live in tropical lowlands from Mexico south to Brazil. That flying mammal is the smallest bat so far discovered in Central America, weighing about 3 grams - less than a tablespoon of water.
'We're talking about a bat that weighs less than a teaspoon full of water,' said Bickham, director of Purdue's Center for the Environment.
The nine species were found in recent years by Bickham and colleagues in remote areas of Mexico, Central America, South America and Africa.
Bickham said he expects significant bids, judging by previous naming auctions.
Last year, Conservation International auctioned the naming rights to 10 new fish species during a gala 'Blue Auction' in Monaco that raised more than $2 million for the Washington, D.C.-based conservation group. The highest winning bid was $500,000 for the honor of naming a new species of 'walking' shark.
Bickham, who has been studying the genetics of bats and other animals for nearly 30 years, said a portion of the money raised by the auctions will go toward the work needed to properly describe each of seven bats and two turtles according to scientific protocol.
The rest will help preserve the natural areas where each creature was found and educate the public about the importance of protecting the planet's wide range of animals and plants.
Bickham said he doesn't think that the fact that they could make a bat someone's namesake would dissuade would-be bidders from bidding on the species.
'Bats may be an acquired taste,' he said, 'but there are a lot of people very interested in them and very concerned about their welfare.'