You probably should never have seen a "Deadpool fly" or a "Loki fly". But since the end of July they started to “exist” out there: Australian scientists discovered a series of new species of the fly thief family (Asilidae) and named them with several Marvel Comics characters and their most illustrious figure, the late Stan Lee .
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The Community Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is an Australian federal scientific agency. Each year, the agency releases a list of new species named in the season. In June 2019, he named a bee fly (Bombyliidae) in honor of the villainous King of the Night, from Game of Thrones, with the scientific name Paramonovius nightking.
In 2020, CSIRO decided to make references to superhero comics. The newly discovered insects were named by entomology student Isabella Robinson, who works with National Research Collections Australia, a subsidiary of CSIRO. She even toyed with the news on Twitter, citing actor Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in Marvel Studios films.
Good morning, @twhiddleston! Meet the Loki fly, a new species of assassin fly named for the God of Mischief. The name 'illusiolautus' means elegant deception and the species is one of 165 named by @CSIRO this year. https://t.co/RqEdNcdui4 pic.twitter.com/KU21qySLV4
– Isabella Robinson (@TheScienceRobin) August 1, 2020
Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld responded to the news: "Nature adapts. I lived to see my work become a species. Is this where the microphone falls?" And the “mother” herself replied on Twitter: "As soon as I saw the markings under the microscope, I knew that it had to be done".
As soon as I saw the markings down the microscope, I knew it had to be done. Thank you @robertliefeld for creating such an amazing character to name a species after! #CSIROcollections https://t.co/VBd8gW2pdD
– Isabella Robinson (@TheScienceRobin) July 30, 2020
Below are how the scientific names of each fly based were, with the Latin passage basically describing the characteristics of each figure:
- Stan Lee: Daptolestes leei makes reference to the mustache and glasses;
- Thor: Daptolestes broneflavis mentions a “blond thunder”;
- Loki: Daptolestes illusiolautus quotes "elegant illusion";
- Black Widow: Daptolestes feminategus, which means "woman wearing leather";
- Deadpool: Humorolethalis sergius, literally translated as "wet" (humorous, which makes reference to the comedy inherent in the character) and lethal.
The importance of naming species
"Giving a species a scientific name for the first time can be fun, but it is also a vital science. Unknown species are invisible to science and conservation," says Bryan Lessard, an entomologist at CSIRO. He explains that burning in Australia during the summer of 2019 destroyed many of the areas where he collected new insects. "Some of these species may have been wiped out before I had a chance to name them," he added.
Although naming a species is fun for the scientist, it is also vital for our scientific understanding, as this way it officially “exists”. This helps to identify where and how she lives, what she eats and how she survives. The more you know, the more you can do to conserve it – and the first step is to baptize it.
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According to CSIRO, only 1/4 of Australian insects have scientific names. This means that in Australia alone, there are hundreds of thousands of animals that have not yet been identified and documented. This year, along with these new super-flies, the organization named 151 new insects, eight new plants, two fish, a mite that lives on a lizard and helped baptize three new bird subspecies.