The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) just named 165 new species and five of them are flies named after Marvel characters. This is pretty cool, and the Deadpool one is on point. But the translation of the latin names for the new Marvel flies are even better.
What’s in a name?
“A species name last forever, so scientists need to get it right,” CSIRO entomologist, Dr Bryan Lessard, said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“The best part about describing a new species is that the scientists gets to name it whatever they’d like.”
According to Dr Lessard, 75 per cent of the world’s species are unknown to science. The CSIRO names around 200 a year but the recent catastrophic bush fires prevented the organisation from collecting in the field last summer.
“Some of these new solider flies and spider wasps are only known from severely burned areas, like Namdgi National Park in the ACT or Lamington National Park in Queensland,” Dr Lessard said.
“Naming these species is the first step to protecting them, since they can now be identified by scientists to monitor their recovery from the recent bushfires and see if they need to be listed as endangered species.”
Some species wait decades to be named, such as two freshly named cods that have been residing in the Australian National Fish Collection in Hobart.
“Australia is a biodiversity hotspot, and we have fewer scientists compared to other continents like Europe where their species are better documented,” Dr Lessard said.
“It’s not unusual for a species to be collected from the ocean depths or dense rainforests, only for it wait many years in a museum for an expert to come along and identify it as new. That’s why it’s so important to have natural history collections as a resource for species discovery. Some of the colourful soldier flies I named this year waited more than a century to be formally named.”
These new Marvel flies were named by Isabella Robinson, an undergraduate entomology student who works with the CSIRO’s National Research Collections. Robinson is also a comic artist and huge Marvel fan, hence the names.
But each fly isn’t directly named after a character. Officially they have been given latin names that nod to the heroes. The translations are brilliant and if you look at the Deadpool one, it’s spot on.
- Stan Lee: Daptolestes leeiandshares his characteristic sunglasses and white moustache
- Thor: Daptolestes bronteflavus, meaning blond thunder
- Loki: Daptolestes illusiolautus, meaning elegant deception
- Black Widow: Daptolestes feminategus, meaning woman wearing leather
- Deadpool: Humorolethalis sergius, meaning wet/moist, and dead. It also shares his mask markings
The fact our country is responsible for naming flies ‘blond thunder’, ‘moist and dead’ and ‘woman wearing leather’ is sublime. Never change, Australian scientists.
Here’s a video from the CSIRO explaining more about the Marvel flies.