Working in Central and South America, University of Michigan entomologists Sarah Smith and Anthony Cognato have found more than 30 species of ragweed beetle. It is worth noting that the discovered individuals were not known to science until this day. Smith and Cognato described the new species in an article for ZooKeys magazine.
Many of the new species are named after iconic female science fiction characters, including Nyota Uhura from “Star Trek” Kara “Starbuck” Freis from “Battlestar Galactica” and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games” books and movies.
Understanding the world’s biodiversity is one of the main driving forces behind this and related research. Scientists estimate that there are more than 10 million non-bacterial species in the world, and humans have classified only about 20% of them.
However, some of them disappear even before they are discovered. When humans destroy natural ecosystems, such as agriculture and mining, undiscovered species will die out before researchers know about them, the study authors note.
As part of the project, a team of scientists conducted fieldwork in Peru, where illegal gold miners are destroying forests, turning them into deserts.