Last year, the Commonwealth Industrial Science and Research Organization (CSIRO) cataloged 151 new insect species in Australia and named some of them in reference to famous Marvel characters in comics and cinema. The tributes were paid to Deadpool, Black Widow, Thor, Loki and even to the publisher’s popular figure creator Stan Lee.
A thief fly was called Deadpool because it has visual characteristics similar to the chatty mercenary, such as colors and mask design. According to Bryan Lessard, the agency’s entomologist, its scientific name is Humorolethalis sergius, as it brings a sense of “lethal humor, derived from the Latin humorosus, which means wet or damp, and lethalis, which means dead”.
Other examples are types of flies called Daptolestes feminategus, description with the meaning of “woman who wears leather” in reference to the classic Black Widow dress. In the case of Daptolestes bronteflavus, the translation is “blond thunder”, as a tribute to Thor; while Daptolestes illusiolautus alludes to the God of Trick and Treat, Loki. It is also worth pointing out Daptolestes Lee, to honor Stan Lee, due to his characteristics of wearing sunglasses and having a white mustache.
“We are interested in identifying new insect species that could be pollinators, nutrient recyclers or the next source of food to support the agricultural sector. Being able to do this and differentiate them allows experts to learn more about them and help save lives, “said the CSIRO statement.
According to Lessard, only 25% of Australian insects are known to science. Thus, the more types are named, the better the understanding of their roles in nature and society. “Without a scientific name, these species are invisible to science,” he said.
“We have discovered a new species of spider wasp that is only found in an area that has been heavily affected by forest fires this summer, so now we can carefully monitor its recovery,” said Juanita Rodriguez, an expert in the area. She added that some poisons produced by these insects may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.