Museum, University of Nebraska State


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Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star, December 18, 2018, pp A3-A5


Copyright 2018 Lincoln Journal Star


Longtime UNL entomologist names beetles for dragons

Gymnetis rhaegali, Gymnetis drogoni, Gymnetis viserioni, Ambyoproctus boondocksius, Cyclocephala nadanotherwon, Strategus longichomperus

University of Nebraska entomology professor Brett Ratcliffe, who also curates the Nebraska State Museum's beetle collection, shows elephant beetles, a member of the scarab beetle family, in his office in Nebraska Hall.

Unlike their namesakes, three species of scarab beetles newly described by University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist Brett Ratcliffe do not breathe fire. Or, at least, entomologists and field researchers haven't observed them doing so.

Nor do the scarabs have the thick, reptilian scales and leathery wings like the trio of dragons hatched by Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc., in the HBO series"Game of Thrones."

But in a world where millions of variations of beetles exist — roughly one-quarter of all insects on the planet is a beetle — new names are sometimes hard to come by.

"Typically people name things after some charactertistic of the animal," Ratcliffe said in the fifth-floor lab of Nebraska Hall, lined with volumes of reference material related to the world's insects.

"Other times they'll name them after people who have been important to the discipline, or who helped find the species in nature, or an important colleague you want to give credit to for their life's work."

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