Brian Brown of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles discovered a highly unusual fly species in the Brazilian Amazon. The fly had certain features which immediately inspired the entomologist to name the new insect after Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“As soon as I saw those bulging legs, I knew I had to name this one after Arnold,” said Brown. “Not only is he a major cultural icon and an important person in the political realm, his autobiography gave me some hope that I could improve my body as a skinny teenager.”
Brown says that the fly has many other features that stand out as well. “It is known only from one female specimen that we almost overlooked because it is so incredibly small,” he explains.
According to Brown, the Megapropodiphora arnoldi is actually the world’s smallest fly, measuring only 0.395 millimeters in body length. Unlike the bulked up forelegs that earned the fly its name, the rest of the legs and the wings appear to be extremely reduced.
Based on its sharp ovipositor, Brown is convinced that the fly is a parasitoid, which is a parasite that ultimately kills its hosts. Brown explains that the fly likely latches on to an ant or a termite and rides along until it can fully take advantage of the host.
Brown has been exceptionally successful at finding new species of tiny flies, which he describes as “the continuing frontier for insect discovery.” He says that almost all of the flies in remote and tropical regions are unknown. In 2016 alone, Brian and his research team described a total of 12 new scuttle fly species at once.
The research is published in the Biodiversity Data Journal.
Image Credit: Brian Brown