Taking a break from the usual site updates, many of you may be interested in this contest from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology to name a number of newly-discovered insects after Pokémon. A summary of the contest is below, along with links to the contest and more information about it. If you were looking a way to utilize your enthusiasm about Pokémon for real-world scientific purposes, this would be a great way to do so!
In what may be the first of its kind, an international team of scientists from the Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology (OSIT) announced an Internet contest to name five new insect species they discovered from the Fiji Islands. Although scientists christen thousands of new species each year with scientific names, this may be the first time the honor will be given to the worldwide public. There is only one rule to the online poll: voters must choose from a list of 25 Pokémon names (no, Anty McAntface is not an option).
Why name ants after Pokémon? Dr. Eli Sarnat, who is leading the project, realized that naming the new species after Pokémon could highlight an integral part of the study: Augmented Reality (AR), “Augmented reality (AR) is a rapidly expanding technology but most of the taxonomy experts our paper is written for aren’t familiar with the term. Now once you start talking about Pokémon Go, folks get it right away. The app we’re developing is like Pokémon Go, but instead of seeing Pokémon through your phone, you’ve got these intricate computer-generated models of new ant species that you can rotate and spin and walk around as if they were right in front of you.”
Pokémon and entomology share much in common, and the OIST team hopes that the contest will bring Pokémon fans an even greater appreciation for insects. Satoshi Tajiri, the inventor of Pokémon, enjoyed insect collecting as a boy and hoped one day to become an entomologist. The influence of bug collecting is clearly reflected in the Pokémon universe Tajiri created. Asked how he settled on a shortlist of only 25 out of 802 possible Pokémon, Sarnat said he focused mostly on those that physically resemble the new Strumigenys ‘trapjaw’ ants which all have six legs and a pair of pincer-like mandibles. Sarnat also included the four Polynesian-like guardian deities of the Alola Islands that remind him of his fieldwork among the Fiji Islands where the ants were discovered.
Contest Page: https://fans.vote/v/ACxFPX00XkY
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Pokemon-Contest-835884166619075