A new moth species, found in the Appalachian Mountains, has been named after a Cherokee chief.
The moth species, Cherokeea attakullakulla, has been named after Cherokee chief Attakullakulla, who lived in that region in the 1700s.
The species of moth were named ‘Cherokeea attakullakulla’ in a bid to honor the Cherokee nation and Chief Attakullakulla, who was a diplomat for the Cherokee. Attakullakulla travelled as far as England to fight for his people’s rights. He was honored as the tribe’s First Beloved Man.
The species of moth was first discovered in 1958 by Dr. John G. Franclemont, a professor at Cornell University. Franclemont made the discovery of the new species while studying some insects he collected in North Carolina. During his study, he noticed that out of the total specimens, few appeared different. At that point of time the scientists did not realize that he was dealing with a whole new species at the time.
Four decades later, however, biologist Dr. J. Bolling Sullivan III recorded the moth again. Sullivan noticed that the new insect species when he was working in mountainous regions of the state. This was again when the scientist were unable to realize that a new species had been found.
Later on, Sullivan joined retired entomologist Dr. Eric Quinter, who had been studying this particular group of moths for decades. Finally, both the scientists realized the new species of moth and named them, over 50 years after it was first documented.
“Fortunately, today much of this wondrous place and its extraordinarily diverse biota remains preserved as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the memory of those who first settled there remains immortalized in a tiny creature oblivious to it all,” Dr. Quinter said.
Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said, “It’s unusual to find a new species of animal, even a moth, in today’s world. As a tribe, the Cherokee people were always deeply connected to nature and the environment in our original homelands in the East and having a new species named in honor of the Cherokee Nation is something I don’t think has ever happened before, but we are honored just the same. In scientific and academic circles, the naming of a new discovery is deeply meaningful and symbolic.”