CSIRO’s newly named species are something to Marvel at

  Last updated July 31, 2020 at 8:17 am


CSIRO scientists have created quite a buzz with their annual list of newly named species, drawing inspiration from the Marvel universe.

stan lee's fly_newly named species_Daptolestes leei

Stan Lee’s fly, Daptolestes leei. Credit: CSIRO

Why This Matters: Naming species can be a superpower in itself.

CSIRO has released its annual list of newly named species and this time it’s paying homage to the good guys.

After last year’s tribute to Game of Thrones villain Night King, the fantasy loving scientists have turned to a bit of comic book hero worship from the Marvel universe.

Also: The Night King reigns in Australia

First cab off the rank is Stan Lee’s fly, Daptolestes leei (above), which shares his characteristic sunglasses and white moustache.

thor's fly_newly named species_Daptolestes bronteflavus

Thor’s Fly, Daptolestes bronteflavus. Credit: CSIRO

Next up is Daptolestes bronteflavus, which means blonde thunder – and we’ll give you one guess who this fly was named after.

loki's fly_newly named species_Daptolestes illusiolautus

Loki’s fly, Daptolestes illusiolautus. Credit: CSIRO

As Marvel fans know, there is no Thor without his brother trying to steal his limelight. With Loki in mind, they named a species of robber fly Daptolestes illusiolautus, meaning elegant deception.

black widow's fly_newly named species_Daptolestes feminategus

Black Widow’s fly, Daptolestes feminategus. Credit: CSIRO

Black Widow’s fly was named after the character’s iconic outfit, Daptolestes feminategus, meaning woman wearing leather.

deadpool's fly_newly named species_Humorolethalis sergius

Deadpool’s fly, Humorolethalis sergius. Credit: CSIRO

Last, but by no means least, is Deadpool’s fly, Humorolethalis sergius. The character himself would no doubt be pleased to know the name comes from the Latin words for moist and dead. The fly also shares the red and black mask markings on his back.

In total the scientists gave names to 162 new species – 151 insects, eight plants, two fish and one mite – and three subspecies of birds.

Naming species can be a super-power for conservation

While the superheroes rely on their Asgardian powers, super-speed or fighting skills, Bryan Lessard from CSIRO says naming new species is an important superpower in itself – and can help solve many of the world’s challenges.

Also: Top 10 new marine species of the year

“We named two new species of colourful soldier flies from recently burned national parks. These species are found nowhere else in the world,” he says.

“Soldier flies have an important role in nature as nutrient recyclers. Losing such species could have knock-on effects in ecosystems and food chain,” he says.

“We are interested in identifying new insect species that might be useful pollinators, nutrient recyclers or the next food source to support the agricultural sector.”

Naming new species can also be vital for science in our everyday lives says bee and wasp expert Dr Juanita Rodriquez.

“We discovered a new species of spider wasp that is only found in an area badly impacted by bushfires this summer, so now we can carefully monitor its recovery,” she says.

“Spider wasps have venom that could be useful for treating Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, but most Australian spider wasp species are unknown to science.”

Teach This

Education resource – These new species are things to Marvel at

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About the Author

Amelia Nichele
Amelia Nichele is the Editorial Assistant at Australia's Science Channel and Cosmos Magazine. Her academic background is Journalism and Professional Writing. Her biggest fans are her cats.

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