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12-Year-Old Girl Names New Species of Fungus: “Hotlips”

she blinded me with science

Natural England recently held their annual Name a Species contest, asking non-scientists to come up names for newly discovered species. And out of 10 newly-named species, one was deemed the best overall — Hotlips. The moniker belongs to the fungus species Octospora humosa, and it is the work of Rachael Blackman. She is 12 years old, and she is giving everyone hope that our younger generation still has a growing interest in nature and science.

The contest was sponsored by the environmental section of The Guardian, and its editor, Adam Vaughan, says that Rachael’s victory will mean a lot not just to the continued enthusiasm kids have for science and nature, but also the conservation of the species:

“The fact that a 12 year-old girl won the Name a Species competition puts paid to the lie that today’s young generation are not interested in nature … By dubbing a fungus with the witty, memorable and salient name of ‘hotlips’, Rachael Blackman has probably done more for the conservation of Octospora humosa than any naturalist before her.”

The mushroom now known as Hotlips was named for its bright orange-red color and its resemblance to a pair of puckered lips. It also shoots out “highly pressurized spores,” which sounds like a hot mess. So don’t eat them, and keep them outside.

“Hotlips” was just one name among over 6,000 entries to name all 10 species. Other winners include Ascot Hat (Xerocomus bubalinus, another mushroom) by Diane Mathewson and the Gangly Lancer (Nymphon gracile, a sea spider) by an unnamed participant.

Congratulations, Rachael, for being living evidence that young girls who love science not only exist, but make an impact!

(Natural England via Wired)

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