A professor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has named three of the new beetles he recently discovered after characters in one of his favorite television shows, the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.
Brett Ratcliffe, who teaches entomology, the study of insects, at the school, has reportedly named more than 200 species of scarab beetles and has even had some named after him throughout his career, according to the Omaha World-Herald. His recent discovery of eight new kinds of beetles from the genus Gymnetis left him searching for interesting new monikers for the bugs.
He decided to name three of his new finds after dragons from author George R.R. Martin’s book series that the television drama is based on, because the beetles each have orange features reminiscent of dragon fire.
In the fictionalized works, the character Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) is known as the Mother of Dragons. She has three of the creatures: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Ratcliffe will now be known as the founder of the drogoni, rhaegali, and viserioni beetles. Species names are typically Latin words, so Ratcliffe “Latinized” the dragons’ names to make them sound more scientific.
“When you create names like these, you do it to gain a little bit of notoriety and bring public attention to it,” Ratcliffe explained to the Omaha World-Herald.
"I've often thought that scientists take themselves too seriously, and this is a way to circumvent that," University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Brett Ratcliffe said. https://t.co/pVrwIBGU1F— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) December 30, 2018
“We’re still discovering life on Earth. One of every four living things on Earth is a beetle. We haven’t discovered them all. We’re not even close.”
Each of the new beetles that Ratcliffe discovered were found in different areas of the world, reported the Lincoln Journal Star. The drogoni beetle was found in the jungles of Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina, while viserioni beetles were found in countries where Central America connects to South America. The rhaegali beetle was found only in French Guiana.
Ratcliffe has spent more than four decades studying insects and is one of the world’s foremost experts on scarab beetles, an insect that makes up 25 percent of all bugs on the planet.
National Geographic statistics state that there are about 30,000 different scarab beetle species known to man. The insects can be found all over the world, except in oceans and on Antarctica.
Meanwhile, the upcoming eighth season of Game of Thrones will be the series’ last. It is expected to debut on HBO in April, 20 months after the Season 7 finale in August of 2017.