Breaking News In the Worldwide Scientific Community: Two Kids Leave a Permanent Mark on Science

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A newly discover species is named by two children, winners of a contest hosted by Maple Tree Press and the author of Strange New Species, Elin Kelsey.

In October 2005 Maple Tree Press announced the exciting Name a New Species Contest in conjunction with the publication of Strange New Species: Astonishing Discoveries of Life on Earth (Paperback,1-897066-32-5, 16.95 US/19.95 CAN; Cloth, 1-897066-31-7, 26.95 US/29.95 CAN) by Elin Kelsey. The contest ran from November 1st, 2005 to March 31st, 2006 giving children across North America the chance to send in an entry to name a newly identified species and leave a permanent mark on science.

From over a thousand entries that came in, one name was chosen as the favorite by the judges. Surprisingly, the winning name of “Salsolis” was entered twice, separately, by 8-year old Duncan Uszkay and 11-year old Hannah Walsh. To honor this coincidence (surely a testament to the endless ingenuity and intelligence of kids), Maple Tree Press offers the heartiest congratulations to the winners: Duncan Uszkay and Hannah Walsh! The common name for the new species is "Salsolis."

To quote the scientist whose team discovered the new species, and who was also one of the judges, Dr. Bonnie Baxter says:

“The scientists on the judging committee were astounded by the variety and numbers of names submitted. Most of us were particularly drawn to the rationale that children used to choose a name. Some of the children took this very seriously and presented names with Latin roots or named by the discoverer. Others decorated these microbes with creative and imaginative names. Still others gave names of compassion: one after her late father, another after Hurricane Katrina. To all of these kids, thanks for participating and helping us name this very important little part of our natural world!”

Hannah and Duncan both chose the name “salsolis” because sal means salt and solis means sun in Latin, which describes two of the defining characteristics of this newly discovered species of halophile (meaning salt-lover). This new species was found in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, by 21-year old science student Ashlee Allred. She is part of a team of scientists led by biochemist Dr. Bonnie Baxter, who are doing research on life in extreme environments on Earth and other planets. This new species is part of a group of organisms called “extremophiles” because of their ability to survive in extreme environments. Salsolis thrives in water ten times saltier than the sea and contains such an abundance of carotinoid pigments that it is completely resistant to ultraviolet rays. Dr. Baxter hopes that these tiny microbes could lead to breakthroughs in understanding how to prevent UV damage to humans.

The winners and 10 lucky finalists will receive a copy of Strange New Species signed by the author, Elin Kelsey. The finalists are:

Jeffrey Martin, "Saladuro"    

Cameron Coyle, "Salteenies"     

Kate Eppler, "Solsaphilia"        

Lindsay McKay, "Lawrence"    

Cooper Harcott, "Fire Saltan"    

Carly Wood, "Allred"                

Kris Mutafov, "Sallum"            

Jared Edwards, "Sicro"        

Maritza Morales, "Variphile"

Jordan Kovacs, "Salty the Basking Carrot"

A panel of distinguished scientists and the student who identified the species chose the winning name. They are excited to participate in this unique competition that will no doubt spark a life-long interest in science and nature among many of the entrants.

In March 2005, The Wildlife Conservation Society in New York held a fund-raising auction to name a species of monkey newly discovered in Bolivia, and the winning bid was $650,000. These fortunate children had this marvelous naming opportunity for free!

In Kelsey's Strange New Species, which includes a foreword by Marc Van Roosmalen (Time Magazine Hero for the Planet), readers will meet scientists from around the world who search for new species on our planet—with everything from submarines to spaghetti strainers. This book and other Maple Tree Press titles are distributed by Raincoast Books in Canada and Publishers Group West in the U.S.

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