Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020

New beetle named after climate activist Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg has had a new species of beetle named after her.

The Nelloptodes gretae belongs to the Ptiliidae family of beetles, which includes some of the smallest insects in the world.

It is less than 1mm long, has no eyes or wings, but does have two long pigtail-like antennae.

It was named in honour of the Swedish teenage climate activist by Dr Michael Darby, a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum in London.

He said: “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”.

The beetle was first collected in samples of soil and leaf litter from Nairobi by Dr William C Block in the 1960s – and his findings were donated to the Natural History Museum in 1978.

Mr Darby discovered them while studying the museum’s Spirit Collection, which houses more than 22 million animal specimens.

Dr Max Barclay, senior curator, said that there were potentially “hundreds of exciting new species still to be discovered around the world as well as in the vast collections of the Natural History Museum.”

He added: “The name of this beetle is particularly poignant, since it is likely that undiscovered species are being lost all the time, before scientists have even named them – because of biodiversity loss – so it is appropriate to name one of the newest discoveries after someone who has worked so hard to champion the natural world and protect vulnerable species.”

Greta, 16, has become known globally after skipping school on Fridays to strike against climate change and urging millions across the world to follow suit.

And she recently addressed a United Nations summit on the issue in New York, travelling there by boat after refusing to fly.

She used the platform to accuse world leaders of “stealing” her childhood.

The appearance led to criticism from both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

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