Scientists have named a 20 million-year-old grasshopper after Sir David Attenborough. The millions old grasshopper was found trapped in a collection of amber discovered in the Dominican Republic 50 years ago by the researchers at the University of Illinois.
Sir David welcomed the honor, saying he is ‘tickled pink’.
“It is the nicest compliment you can receive from a naturalist. I am tickled pink,” Sir David said.
“Sir David has a personal interest in amber, and also he was one of my childhood heroes and still is one of my heroes and so I decided to name the species in his honor,” said Sam Heads, a palaeontologist at the University of Illinois.
Talking more about these insects, Heads said grasshoppers found in amber are very rare and therefore this specimen is particularly well-preserved as fossil insects give great exposure to the evolution of specific features and behaviours while elaborating more upon their history.
“They are an incredible resource for understanding the ancient world, primeval ecosystems and the ancient climate – better even, perhaps, than dinosaur bones,” Heads asserted.
According to the researchers, dozens of insects including bark beetles, stingless bees, midges, new flies, ants, spiders, wasps and mites have been found in the amber in frozen condition. This rare collection of insects gives a fascinating snapshop to their evolution.
Electrotettix attenboroughi, the pygmy grasshopper which has been named after Sir David, literally means Attenbourgh’s amber grasshopper. In the amber, this rare grasshopper was of particular interest as it shows the juncture where the creature was trailing its wings.
The scientists have reported the discovery in the journal ZooKeys.