Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has garnered worldwide fame, also a Nobel Prize nomination for her fight against the effects of climate change. Well, now that fight has also earned Greta something else - a namesake for a newly identified species of beetle.
MAX BARCLAY: It's less than a millimeter long, living in the leaf litter. They're feeding on the spores of fungi.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Max Barclay is an entomologist and senior beetle curator at the National History Museum in London. Another scientist actually found the previously neglected beetle in a collection of specimens that's been at the museum since the '70s. So this bug is really tiny. Also notable, it doesn't have any eyes or wings.
GREENE: All right. So they're calling this beetle Nelloptodes gretae in honor of the activist. The first part of that name I just said refers to this relatively new subgroup the beetle belongs to, and the second is a Latinized version of Greta. Barclay says the researcher wanted to call attention to the importance of biodiversity.
BARCLAY: I think he feels a lot of people don't realize that the world is so fantastically diverse but also so very fragile.
GREENE: The tiny beetle species is thought to live in the topsoil of tropical forests in Uganda; that's one of the habitats most threatened by climate change.
MARTIN: Barclay says the discovery of new species is a pretty common occurrence. With a beetle collection some 10 million specimens strong, the museum logs a new species about once a week. Some are only identified after they have gone extinct.
BARCLAY: All of them are doing something important. But until you lose them, you often don't know what they were doing. Some people have aliked biodiversity to a game of Jenga. You know, you take one piece out, and the whole tower falls down.
GREENE: Now, Barclay says it is pretty unusual for a species to be named after a nonscientist. Still, he thinks this honor is well-deserved.
BARCLAY: I think this is probably the first species that's been named after Greta Thunberg, probably won't be the last.
GREENE: Greta joins the ranks of other big names in environmentalism who have beetle namesakes, including Charles Darwin and David Attenborough.
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