The soldier fly, whose Latin name is Opaluma rupaul, is adorned with bold rainbow colors and is bound to capture the attention of anyone who comes across it—much like the drag icon itself.
Brian Lessard of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) – also known in scientific circles as “Bry the Fly Cow”, is responsible for naming the species and says there were a myriad of reasons why he chose the moniker. Why chose
“When I was examining the sample under the microscope, I was watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ so it was on my mind!” Lesser told Granthshala. “And I really wanted to give this group of flies a memorable name because it deserves attention—the first specimen of this RuPaul fly was collected over a hundred years ago and sat neglected in a museum collection until that time.” No one with the knowledge of the group came together to name and document them.”
Many of the 13 new soldier flies named Lesser are from areas affected by Australia’s devastating 2019-2020 bushfires – which is part of the reason he wanted to give at least one of them a name no one will forget.
“These species would burn up and no one would have cared if I hadn’t given them a name,” Lesser said.
RuPaul Fly CSIRO . is just one of 150 new species named by Recently — and it’s not the only one named after a pop culture figure.
The organization also named three newly discovered, rare beetles after characters from Pokémon – the Japanese anime series that spawned an entire franchise of video games, toys, and trading cards. The beetles are named Binaburum Articuno, Binaburum Moltres and Binaburum Zapdos after three rare Pokémon: Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos.
Lessard says that one of the reasons CSIRO gave attention-grabbing names to insect species is to encourage greater public interest in invertebrates and to highlight their important role in biodiversity.
“Typically, it’s the cute and cuddly koalas that get everyone’s attention when it comes to conservation efforts,” Lesser explained. “And invertebrates are overlooked – despite the fact that they are essential workers of ecosystems that pollinate native flowers and agricultural crops that are grown to give us food. If we had that service from invertebrates, Otherwise, the world would be a terrible place.”
In addition to spurring greater interest in invertebrates and encouraging the next generation of entomologists and scientists to seek out new species, Lesser also hopes that naming the soldier fly after an LGBTQ+ icon like RuPaul will help young LGBTQ+ people understand it. Knowing that there are other gay scientists out there and that there is a place for them in the world of science.
“As a gay scientist, in a very traditional field of science—in entomology, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin,” Lesser said. “I think it’s really important for the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists to know that they are being represented in the workplace, because we in the community give legends names to memorable species.”
Credit : www.cnn.com