A new species of beetle has been named after Greta Thunberg

Frederic J. Brown/AFP and Natural History Museum

A new species of miniature beetle has been named after Greta Thunberg to honour the climate change activist’s work in the field.

Michael Darby, Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum decided to name the new species after the 16-year-old.

The new species belongs to the family of beetles called Ptiliidae, and despite their global distribution, they are “not particularly well known because of their miniature size,” the Natural History Museum revealed.

The beetles are usually found in leaf litter and soil, feeding on fungal hyphae and spores. While there are a few dozen species found in the UK alone, in the tropics their diversity is poorly understood.

“The family that I work on are some of the smallest known free-living creatures,” Michael revealed.

They are not parasitic and are not living inside other creatures. Few of them measure more than a millimetre long.

I suspect that this could very well be the first time a species has been named after Greta. I don't know of any other beetle named after her, that's for sure.

The mini beetle was collected in Kenya between 1964 and 1965 by etomologist William Brock, who had taken samples of soil from east Africa which had been stored in the Museum’s collections.

So what does beetle Greta look like?

Nelloptodes gretae is pale yellow and gold, and comes in at 0.79 millimetres. It does not have eyes or wings, instead harbouring a small pit found between where the eyes should go.

“These beetles are so very small that my wife has described them as being like animated full stops,” said Michael.

But actually many are a whole lot smaller than a full stop.

I'd also like to stress that I've not named this species after Greta because it is small - it's just that this is the group that I work on.

Greta once said:

 “Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do...

... But I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.

Given that the young activist launched a global movement before she turned 16 years old, we’d say that’s an accurate statement.

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