The CSIRO have been a busy lot this year, having discovered over 150 new species of insects. But they’ve also been keeping tabs on what’s hip in popular culture, this week naming newly discovered species after world-famous drag queen RuPaul and a handful of Pokémon characters.
A flamboyant soldier fly has been named after RuPaul, its full moniker being Opaluma rupaul. The fly boasts a vivid thorax and colourful abdomen (read: big booty), perhaps reminding discovery scientists of drag queen RuPaul’s vivid and colourful wardrobe.
The first part of the fly’s name forms part of the new Australian genus Opaluma (from the Latin words for opal and thorn), to reflect the oval shape and distinctive thorn on the underside of its abdomen.
Three hard-to-find beetles have been named Binburrum articuno, Binburrum zapdos and Binburrum moltres after three hard-to-find Pokémon: Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the National Research Collections Australia, Dr Bryan Lessard, said that fabulous names can attract the attention of citizen scientists and policy makers to include these species in bushfire recovery efforts.
“Many of the thirteen new soldier flies I named are from areas impacted by the Black Summer bushfires,” said Dr Lessard.
“Two of these, Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina, have now been recognised as endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and are known only from Lamington National Park in Queensland, an area that was significantly burned in the bushfires.”
Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem since their larvae help recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of several Australian wildflowers and plants.
“You better work!”, indeed.