You Called Me What?! 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa

Uncover the fascinating stories behind scientific names – and help us name one of our latest discoveries.

  • When Closed 2 Apr 2017
  • Where Level 3
  • Type Nature and science
Hector’s dolphin

Caption

Hector's dolphin, Photograph by Steve Dawson. New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

Discover the exhibition

Meet some of the passionate scientists who’ve discovered more than 2,500 species since the museum’s humble beginnings in 1865. Learn how they’ve named their discoveries, and explore their legacy today.

  • Encounter a life-size model of Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), the most famous namesake of James Hector, the museum’s pioneering director.
  • Keep an eye out for the Taniwhasaurus oweni – an ancient sea beast named after the mythical Māori taniwhataniwha monster.
  • Find the plant that’s earned the name Aciphylla horrida, meaning ‘horrid needle-grass’.

Help us name a new species

Celebrate 150 years of science at Te Papa by helping us name a new species. You just might go down in history.

Suggest a name for this Acanthoclinus rockfish. We’ll seriously consider your idea.

This rockfish will be described as a new species by Te Papa scientist Andrew Stewart.

PLEASE NOTE: Submissions are now closed.

The new species of rockfish (specimen), 67 millimetres long. Te Papa (P.046264)

Caption

The new species of rockfish, Milford Sound, 1998. Photograph by Andrew Stewart. Te Papa

When choosing your species name, keep in mind that this rockfish:

  • is an orange-red colour with iridescent blue and white lines along its body
  • is found only around the New Zealand coast – from North Cape to Stewart Island
  • lives on rocky reefs at depths of up to 200 metres – deeper than any other species in its genus
  • was previously misidentified as the splendid rockfish – a close relative
  • was discovered to be a new species in 1998 when it was collected with a splendid rockfish in Milford Sound
  • has the genus name Acanthoclinus, which comes from the ancient Greek words meaning ‘sloping bed of thorns’, and refers to the spines along its back.

Latinise it!

Scientific names are treated as Latin, and often include Latin endings. 

If you’re naming this species after:​

  • a male, add –i (johni)
  • a female, add –ae (sarahae)
  • a place, add –ensis or –icum or –ense (hobbitonensis)
  • a habitat, add –icola or –icolum (jungleicola)
  • its description, add –a or –um (scaleyum).

 

The new species of rockfish (specimen), 67 millimetres long. Te Papa (P.046264)

Caption

The new species of rockfish (specimen), 67 millimetres long. Te Papa (P.046264)

Submit your suggestion (PLEASE NOTE: Submissions now closed)

You can make a submission in the exhibition or by email.

Please include why you chose the name.

By submitting a suggestion, you agree to our terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

  • By submitting, you agree that your entry can be used and shared by Te Papa.
  • Uses could include media reporting, promotion, and research associated with the project.
  • You understand that by submitting a name, you waive all rights to the suggested name.
  • Use of the name or entry submission is at Te Papa’s discretion.
  • By participating, you grant Te Papa permission to use your personal names, characters, photographs, videos, voices, and likenesses in connection with the project and for future promotion and marketing purposes, and waive any claims to royalty, right, or remuneration for such use.

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