The Christmas gift that keeps on flying: A bat

If you have that person on your holiday list that's just impossible to buy for, perhaps Purdue University has just the furry ticket for you. The University today said it would auction the naming rights to several new species of bat, just in time for Christmas.

Proceeds from the naming project will be used to fund environmental research at Purdue and in the country of the species' origin. Those interested in Purdue's species naming initiative can go here. You can call the Center for the Environment at (765) 494-5146.

The bats were discovered by Purdue's John Bickham, a professor at the school and director of its Discovery Park Center for the Environment. He has discovered or co-discovered seven species, including two Amazonian turtles and bats from areas in Mexico, Central America, South America and Africa. The first bat name to go on the auctions block is a relative of the little yellow bat, known scientifically as Rhogeessa tumida. The bat lives in the Central American countries of Mexico, Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

"They weigh just 3 grams and are very colorful, fittingly in the Purdue-like gold and black. These bats also are especially important, because they are sensitive indicators of environmental quality and a model of how species evolved. For someone wanting to have a species in their name, this is an interesting and unique bat," Bickham said.

While the naming rights auction is targeted a holiday season, such auctions are not new, Purdue noted. For example:

  • A September 2007 auction of rights to name 10 newly discovered species of fish generated $2 million for conservation efforts in eastern Indonesia. The Blue Auction, sponsored by Conservation International and the Monaco-Asia Society, raised $500,000 alone for a Hemiscyllium shark from Cendrawasih Bay and $50,000 for the Pseudanthias fairy basslet.
  • An online auction for naming rights to a new owl butterfly species discovered by the University of Florida brought a winning bid of $40,800 in November 2007, with proceeds benefiting continued research on Mexican butterflies.
  • The Wildlife Conservation Society raised $650,000 in a one-week Internet auction to name a newly identified Bolivian monkey in 2005.

Of course you can go with the usual array of geeky holiday gifts.

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