David Attenborough Beetle: Scientists Name Newly Discovered Beetle After Famed Naturalist

Sir David Attenborough has become one of the most respected naturalists in history. Earning popularity from his journalistic work in the wild, Attenborough has been somewhat of an authority figure on all things natural, having produced the incredibly popular biology series Life on Earth. The broadcaster became an influential figure among many young minds in the 70s and 80s, many of whom would pursue careers in the sciences in the future.

Attenborough continues to reap the rewards of his work. Recently, a team of German biologists, led by Alexander Riedel, announced that they are officially naming a recently discovered Indonesian beetle after the famous broadcaster.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum Karlsruhe have recently discovered 98 new species of beetles under the genus Trigonopterus. They were found in Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands. According to The Verge, one of the species was named Trigonopterus attenboroughi “in recognition of [Attenborough’s] outstanding documentaries on natural history.”

Trigonopterus attenboroughi

Sci-News reports about the biologists’ fascinating discovery. Yayuk Suhardjono, a scientist at the Zoological Museaum of Jakarta, described the finds “surprising,” explaining that despite Bali and Java’s high human population, unknown species continue to be discovered in the southeast Asian islands.

“It was surprising that in Bali even areas regularly visited by package tours can be the home to unknown species,” said Suhardjono.

The scientists detailed the difficulties they encountered during their scientific expedition to Indonesia. According to them, one of the most challenging parts of discovering such a huge number of previously unknown species is naming each and every one of them.

“It was [also] a challenge to find suitable names for so many new species. Some could be based on their respective localities; others were named by the Indonesian numbers one to twelve,” the researchers said.

However, they added that they did not find any difficulties naming one of the newly-discovered beetles after David Attenborough, whose dedication to science education is unmatched by even today’s science communicators.

The researchers said, “[H]owever, the easiest choice was to name one for Sir David Attenborough in recognition of his outstanding documentaries on natural history. It can be hoped that the documentation of nature’s beauty finally leads to an effective protection of this heritage.”

This isn’t the very first animal named after the famed wildlife journalist. The Guardian lists seven plants and animals — both living and extinct — that were named after Attenborough shortly after discovery. One of them is a dinosaur — the Attenborosaurus conybeari — which dominated European waters during the early Jurassic period.

[Images from Nottingham Trent University/Flickr and Alexander Riedel]