Burma: Insect named after beloved naturalist David Attenborough
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Burma: Insect named after beloved naturalist David Attenborough

A NEWLY-IDENTIFIED, 100-million-year-old species of damselfly discovered in the Kachin State of Burma (Myanmar) has been named after iconic British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Attenborough’s name was chosen for the creature – found preserved in an amber fossil from the mid-Cretaceous period when dinosaurs still roamed the earth – in honour of his recent 90th birthday and because of his passion for dragonflies.

“Dragonflies in amber are extremely rare and the recent discoveries by my Chinese colleagues are a new window on the past. It is tradition in taxonomy (the naming of a new species) to contact the person concerned,” said co-author of the study Professor Edmund A. Jarzembowski as quoted by the EurekAlert! science news outlet.

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Naturalist David Attenborough arrives for a memorial service for his brother Richard Attenborough at Westminster Abbey in London March 17, 2015. Source: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

“Sir David was delighted because he is not only interested in the story of amber, but also a president of the British Dragonfly Society.”

The fossil, described by the study in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, contains an intact set of wings and is reportedly “extremely well preserved.”

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is quite unique because we have uncovered a new species and it confirms the previous attribution of Mesosticta to the Platystictidae,” said the study’s lead author Daran Zheng from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“It is the first fossil group of modern platystictid damselflies and documents the appearance of Platystictidae as early as mid-Cretaceous.”

There’s a raft of creatures already named after Attenborough, including fish, plants, insects, a lizard, and other prehistoric lifeforms.