Blind amphibian that buries its head in the ground named after Donald Trump
Dermophis donaldtrumpi is a limbless, worm-like amphibian that lives underground in Panama and falls under the caecilian category of tropical amphibians. Its name was selected by EnviroBuild, a U.K.-based supplier of sustainable building materials that forked out $25,000 to secure naming rights for the creature.
The naming auction was organized to raise money for the Rainforest Trust, a New York-based environmental organization.
EnviroBuild says the name choice was appropriate because the serpentine amphibian displays a range of behaviours reminiscent of the president.
For one, its eyes are rather rudimentary and can only detect light or dark. “Capable of seeing the world only in black and white, Donald Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese,” EnviroBuild said.
The creature also has a habit of burrowing its head underground, which EnviroBuild said is akin to Trump figuratively hiding his head in the sand and refusing to accept the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change.
The 10-centimetre-long worm is equipped with tentacles that it uses to find prey.
That’s a trait which EnviroBuild says reminded it of a quote by former U.S. federal prosecutor Juliette Kayem, who told Vanity Fair in August that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion “has tentacles we have no idea about.”
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EnviroBuild also said in a release that while Demorphus donaldtrumpi is generally grey in colour, other caecilians are known to display other colours, “even orange.”
“As Demorphus donaldtrumpi is an amphibian, it is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and is therefore in danger of becoming extinct as a direct result of its namesake’s climate policies,” it added.
Jibes aside, EnviroBuild said it hoped the presidential name choice would spread awareness about what it said was the Trump administration’s regression on environmental issues.
It pointed to the U.S. joining hands with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait at the recent COP24 climate change summit to vote against accepting the findings of a landmark report warning of the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
“It was saddening to see another year without significant progress at the most recent round of COP talks, COP24 in Katowice [in Poland],” the company said in a release. “Further progress on the essential technical elements was blocked by the unusual alliance of USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who also blocked the adoption of a key scientific report.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on what would happen if average global temperatures rise by 1.5 Celsius, and how to ensure they don’t go higher, was widely regarded as a wake-up call for policy-makers when it was released in October.
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“EnviroBuild is not an overtly political organization, but we do feel very strongly that everyone should do everything they can to leave the world in a better way than they found it,” the company said.
The Dermophis donaldtrumpi name will have to undergo peer review before it’s officially adopted, but EnviroBuild pointed out that several other species have been named after presidents.
“It is the perfect name,” said EnviroBuild co-founder Aidan Bell. “‘Caecilian’ is taken from the Latin caecus, meaning ‘blind,’ perfectly mirroring the strategic vision President Trump has consistently shown towards climate change.”
— With a file from the Associated Press
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