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(I'm not sure where I should be asking this question. Please move if/as appropriate.)

Sandracottus (or Sandrokottos) is how the Greeks knew the Indian emperor, Chandragupta Maurya. But it also happens to be the name of a genus of beetle. A number of the species do reside in and around the Indian subcontinent. But I'd like to know if the beetle was named after Chandragupta and if so, why and by whom? Or is it simply a case of extreme coincidence?

(The Sharp mentioned on Wikipedia appears to be David Sharp.)

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As noted in the list of Sandrocottus species the first four species identified and named were

  • Sandracottus festivus (Illiger, 1802)
  • Sandracottus chevrolati (Aubé, 1838)
  • Sandracottus dejeanii (Aubé, 1838)
  • Sandracottus mixtus (Blanchard, 1843)

The given year identifies when the name was first applied, the species of course having been then identified as distinct, and the name is of the authority who made the identification and (usually) coined the name according to Binomial Nomenclature of Biological Classification.

It is quite common for the modern Binomial Names for species to be derived from Latin and/or Greek roots, and this was adhered to even more strictly in the early 19th century than it is now. It is almost certain that the Genus name Sandracottus was chosen to honour Chandragupta; was there a beetle motif associated with Chandragupta perhaps, that Illiger might have been aware of?

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Thank you, Pieter. It does look rather regal. Then again, did Illiger perhaps have a wife named Sandra? I'm very curious to know why. – serendip.in Jan 13 '14 at 10:04

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