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The Taliban Beetle, Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Switzerland.

The Taliban Beetle, a specimen at the Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Switzerland.

Meet the Taliban Beetle.

I took this picture in 2004 while visiting the collections at the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland.  For reasons I was unable to discern, a coleopterist working in the collection in the late 1990’s had intended to name this new Afghani ground beetle after the country’s ruling party at the time.  Whether he came to regret this decision in the post 9/11 world, I do not know.

No formal description of the Taliban beetle was ever printed.  So despite the official looking type label, the species Pterostichus talibani does not officially exist. It is just a shadowy specimen in a museum drawer, an unrealized idea biding its time in the darkness.

You may draw your own parallels- or lack thereof– to today’s Taliban.

***update*** Commentator Jesús did some sleuthing and found a formal description for the species. It’s official, after all.  Damn Taliban.

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