a new species of beetle named after Sir David Attenborough – .

a new species of beetle named after Sir David Attenborough – .

TORONTO – A remarkably complete beetle fossil exhibited for 26 years in a museum in Denver, Colo., And once falsely labeled as a longhorn has been identified as a new species and named after the most famous nature historian in the world.

The frog-legged beetle Pulchritudo attenboroughi, meaning the beauty of Attenborough, was named after British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, researchers said, for his contributions to the field of natural history.

“No one communicates the grandeur and beauty of nature more impressively than Sir David,” Frank Krell, senior curator of entomology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, said in a press release. “This fossil, unique in its preservation and beauty, is a suitable specimen to honor such a great man. “

The beauty of Attenborough lived almost 49 million years ago in a geological period known as the Eocene Age, and was labeled as a longhorn beetle in the Denver Museum’s “Prehistoric Journey” exhibit since its inception. opened in 1995.

But some of its characteristics did not match the characteristics of other longhorns, according to the researchers, which led Krell to look for a Luxembourg expert in beetles.

Krell and Francesco Vitali, curator of the invertebrate zoology collections at the Luxembourg National Museum of Natural History, studied the beetle fossil. They found that its twisted hind legs identified it not as a longhorn beetle, but a type of frog-legged beetle.

This identification was easier due to the quality of the fossil.

Beetles are hardy insects, but are usually not found intact and usually leave only wings behind, the researchers said. However, well-preserved fossils can be found in sedimentary deposits that researchers call lagerstatten. The Eocene Green River Formation in northwest Colorado, where the beauty of Attenborough was discovered, is one such deposit.

“This is one of the most magnificent beetle fossils ever found,” Krell said. “The pattern is preserved with unparalleled clarity and contrast, making it one of the best-preserved beetle fossils. It certainly deserves its name. “

Krell and Vitali chose the name Pulchritudo, Latin for beauty, because of the quality of the fossil. Krell said they immediately settled on the second part of the scientific name, attenboroughi.

They published their findings on Friday in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.


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