Three new species of beetle will forever share their names with the dragons from the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Discovered by Professor Brett Ratcliffe at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the beetles are now known as Drogoni, Rhaegali and Viserioni.
The dragons in the popular series, which is based on a book by George R.R. Martin, are owned by the character Daenerys Targaryen. While Professor Ratcliffe is a fan of the HBO show, he chose the names in an effort to draw attention to biodiversity loss and to undiscovered species.
Out of the eight new beetles that Professor Ratcliffe has recently found, Drogoni and Viserioni were discovered in Colombia and Ecuador, while Rhaegali was found in the French Guiana.
“When you create names like these, you do it to gain a little bit of notoriety and bring public attention to it,” said Professor Ratcliffe. “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.”
Professor Ratcliffe said that he has named hundreds of species, and coming up with new names can be difficult. He said that the rules of naming recommend against using humor or insults, and are specifically designed to avoid the use of duplicate names.
According to Professor Ratcliffe, he went with the pop culture reference for fun. “I’ve often thought that scientists take themselves too seriously, and this is a way to circumvent that.”
Scientists estimate that more than 80 percent of the world’s species have yet to be discovered.
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