Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae The London Natural History Museum has named a species of beetle after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to honor her contribution to raising awareness of environmental issues.
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Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae

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Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae

Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae

Newly Discovered Beetle Named For Greta Thunberg: Nelloptodes Gretae

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The London Natural History Museum has named a species of beetle after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to honor her contribution to raising awareness of environmental issues.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has garnered worldwide fame, also a Nobel Prize nomination for her fight against the effects of climate change. Well, now that fight has also earned Greta something else - a namesake for a newly identified species of beetle.

MAX BARCLAY: It's less than a millimeter long, living in the leaf litter. They're feeding on the spores of fungi.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Max Barclay is an entomologist and senior beetle curator at the National History Museum in London. Another scientist actually found the previously neglected beetle in a collection of specimens that's been at the museum since the '70s. So this bug is really tiny. Also notable, it doesn't have any eyes or wings.

GREENE: All right. So they're calling this beetle Nelloptodes gretae in honor of the activist. The first part of that name I just said refers to this relatively new subgroup the beetle belongs to, and the second is a Latinized version of Greta. Barclay says the researcher wanted to call attention to the importance of biodiversity.

BARCLAY: I think he feels a lot of people don't realize that the world is so fantastically diverse but also so very fragile.

GREENE: The tiny beetle species is thought to live in the topsoil of tropical forests in Uganda; that's one of the habitats most threatened by climate change.

MARTIN: Barclay says the discovery of new species is a pretty common occurrence. With a beetle collection some 10 million specimens strong, the museum logs a new species about once a week. Some are only identified after they have gone extinct.

BARCLAY: All of them are doing something important. But until you lose them, you often don't know what they were doing. Some people have aliked biodiversity to a game of Jenga. You know, you take one piece out, and the whole tower falls down.

GREENE: Now, Barclay says it is pretty unusual for a species to be named after a nonscientist. Still, he thinks this honor is well-deserved.

BARCLAY: I think this is probably the first species that's been named after Greta Thunberg, probably won't be the last.

GREENE: Greta joins the ranks of other big names in environmentalism who have beetle namesakes, including Charles Darwin and David Attenborough.

(SOUNDBITE OF STAN FOREBEE'S "REFLECTIONS")

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