New beetle species named after Leonardo DiCaprio

Water beetle species found in Malaysia was named after the Titanic star for his environmental activism

A new species of water beetle discovered clinging to a sandstone rock in a fast-flowing stream that leads to a waterfall in Malaysian Borneo has been named after the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The tiny black bug, which has a partially retractable head and slightly protruding eyes, was named after the starring of Titanic and The Revenant for his environmental activism.

Citizen scientists who took part in an expedition to Borneo’s Maliau Basin recovered the first known specimen of Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi from a shallow river about a kilometre above sea level. The 3mm-long beetle was instead battered and lacked a front leg and antenna.

The field trip to Borneo was arranged by scientists at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and a Dutch firm, Taxon Expeditions, that develops paying members of the public in the scientific techniques are applied to capture, examine and identify new species. The beetle was named after DiCaprio after the citizen scientists and staff at the Maliau Basin Studies Centre voted at a ceremony at the end of the trip.

The DiCaprio beetle is merely the latest new species to be named after a prominent figure. Earlier this year, a particularly beefy fly from the Brazilian Amazon was named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, while last year the discovery of a moth with yellowish-white scales on its head was named after Donald Trump. Kate Winslet, who starred alongside DiCaprio in Titanic, already has a beetle named after her, as do George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Adolf Hitler.

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G leonardodicaprioi . Photograph: Iva Njunjic/ Hendrik Freitag

” In this case, we didn’t name the beetle because it looks like Leonardo DiCaprio ,” told Iva Njunjic at Taxon Expeditions.” We wanted to highlight that even the smallest being is important, such as this tiny beetle that nobody knew about before now .” A second new species of water beetle detected on the same journey was named after the Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, according to a report in the periodical ZooKeys.

The researchers used a variety of fine-meshed fishing nets and other types of traps to capture bugs of the states of the region before preserving them in alcohol. The specimen were taken back to the laboratory to have their DNA sequenced and their bodies examined in fine detail under a microscope.

When ascertaining a new species of beetle, it is important to dissect the male genitalia, as these can help recognise one variety of water beetle from another, said Njunjic. An internal membranous sac in the male is covered with spines, though whether these aid stimulation during sex or have another role is unknown, told Hendrik Freitag, a is part of the team.

DiCaprio launched an ecological foundation in 1998 to help protect threatened ecosystems around the world. In 2016, he received an award for his work from the UN and in a speech at the ceremony said tackling climate change could be the biggest economic opportunity in US history.

It is unclear what DiCaprio induces of his latest honor, which follows his long-awaited win at the Oscars for his role as a 19 th-century fur-trapper in the 2015 movie The Revenant. Njunjic said the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was informed late last week.” They haven’t replied yet ,” she said.

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