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New beetle named after Greta Thunberg

The newly discovered species of beetle has been named Nelloptodes gretae (the family Ptiliidae), drawing on the Swedish teenage environmental activist’s first name. The insect is less than 1 millimeter long, and has no wings or eyes. In terms of some resemblance to the woman who came to fame by standing in front of the Swedish parliament, holding a “Skolstrejk för klimatet”, the insect does have two long pigtail-like antennae.

The scientist responsible for the naming of the insect, Dr Michael Darby told the BBC that he chose the name as he was “immensely impressed” by the Greta Thunberg’s environmental campaigning and for bringing ecological issues to global attention.

Dippy the dinosaur became an iconic representation of the museum  and has featured in many cartoons ...

Dippy the dinosaur became an iconic representation of the museum, and has featured in many cartoons and other media, including the 1975 Disney comedy One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing.
Natural History Museum, London

The beetle – N. gretae – was discovered in Kenya in the 1960s by biologist William Block. The beetle, among other samples, was donated to London’s Natural History Museum in 1978. The sample was only recently classified when it was discovered to be a new species.

The naming of the species was presented in Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine. This was in a research paper titled “Studies of Ptiliidae (Coleoptera) in the Spirit Collection of the Natural History Museum, London, 6: New species and records collected by W.C. Block in Kenya and Uganda, 1964–1965.”

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is a broadcaster and naturalist who is best known for producing his nine-part “Life” series on BBC.
Photo by Bryan Ledgard

In biological nomenclature, organisms sometimes receive scientific names that honor a person. Donald Trump, for example, has the distinction of having a sea urchin named after himTetragramma donaldtrumpi; David Bowie has a spider name in his honor – Spintharus davidbowiei; and for Beyoncé Knowles, a fly has been named after the singer – Scaptia beyonceae. The public figure with the most species named after them is David Attenborough, with eleven species.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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