People are often surprised to hear that it’s perfectly legitimate to discover a new species and name it after yourself. Legitimate, that is, but not (we pretty much all agree) in good taste. And yet, every now and then, a biologist names a newly-discovered species after him- or herself.* Sometimes, the self-naming happens by accident (oops, Erhard Rohloff)**; sometimes it happen by subterfuge (nice one, Linnaeus); and sometimes it happens with a fanfare of self-adulation (really, Major Robert Tytler?). It’s not common, but among the millions of species names on record, some careful digging turns up a few unambiguous cases.
But it isn’t just species that get given eponymous names. Comets, mountains, cities… and elements. Einsteinium, bohrium, curium… but Albert Einstein didn’t name einsteinium, Niels Bohr didn’t name bohrium, and Marie Curie didn’t name curium. Has anyone ever named an element after themelves? Well, I’ve recently stumbled across (here) the curious case of gallium. Continue reading