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New Species Of Beetle With Braid-Like Antennae Named After Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

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Rachel Baxter

Copy Editor & Staff Writer

clockOct 28 2019, 14:53 UTC

The new species, Nelloptodes gretae. (c) Trustees of the Natural History Museum 

A new species of beetle has been named in honor of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. Christened Nelloptodes gretae, the bug has little resemblance to its namesake, although as BBC News points out, its long antennae could be seen to resemble her signature braids.

“I chose this name as I am immensely impressed with the work of this young campaigner and wanted to acknowledge her outstanding contribution in raising awareness of environmental issues,” Dr Michael Darby, a scientific associate at London's Natural History Museum who named the insect, said in a statement.

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The new species is described in the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine. The beetles were first found in Kenya back in the 1960s by Dr William C. Block who later donated his collection to the Natural History Museum in 1978, where they lay hidden among millions of other creatures.

Years later, the specimens were uncovered by Darby who was able to analyze them and identify a new genus and species. While examining the collection, Darby also identified eight other new species of teeny tiny beetle. 

N. gretae is minute, measuring less than a millimeter in length, and belongs to a family of beetles that includes some of the word’s smallest creepy-crawlies. It has no eyes or wings and can normally be found hiding in soil and leaf litter on the ground.

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While it might sound somewhat rude to name a minuscule, eyeless bug after a person, Darby is a great admirer of Thunberg and wanted to honor her work.

“I'm really a great fan of Greta,” he told the Natural History Museum. “She is a great advocate for saving the planet and she is amazing at doing it, so I thought that this was a good opportunity to recognize that.

“I'd also like to stress that I've not named this species after Greta because it is small – it's just that this is the group that I work on.”

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Greta recently made waves with her passionate speech about politicians’ lack of climate action at a UN summit. She is also leading a global movement of climate strikes, with millions getting involved, just a year after she began striking from school outside the Swedish Parliament.

Thanks to human activity and the climate crisis, we are at risk of losing up to a million species. It’s likely that many species disappear before we even discover them, so it seems fitting that a new species has been named after someone giving her all to encourage the protection of our planet and its inhabitants.


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