Meet the first butterfly to be named after Sir David Attenborough

  • An international team of biologists have named a new and rare Amazonian butterfly species in Sir David Attenborough's honor.
  • The researchers named the butterfly to honor Sir David, “in gratitude for opening the eyes and hearts of millions to the natural world through his inspiring and edifying work.”
  • So far, the researchers have collected only six specimens of the butterfly from the north-west region of the upper Amazon basin.

British naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough has lent his name to a number of animal and plant species. Now, an international team of biologists have named a new and rarely-seen Amazonian butterfly species—Attenborough’s black-eyed satyr or Euptychia attenboroughi—in his honor. This is the first butterfly to be named after Sir Attenborough, according to a recent study published in the journal ZooKeys.

The researchers named the butterfly to honor Sir David Attenborough, “in gratitude for opening the eyes and hearts of millions to the natural world through his inspiring and edifying work,” they write in the paper.

“Other animals and plants have previously been dedicated to Sir David, but it makes us happy and proud to be the first to dedicate a butterfly species in his name,” lead-author Andrew Neild of the Natural History Museum, London, U.K., said in a statement. “Although we are a large team from several countries from across four continents and speaking different languages, we have all been deeply influenced and inspired by Sir David’s fascinating and informative documentaries.”

Upper (left) and under (right) side of the male holotype of Attenborough's Blackeyed-Satyr (Euptychia attenboroughi). Photo credit: Andrew Neild, Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London; CC-BY 4.0
Upper (left) and under (right) side of the male holotype of Attenborough’s Blackeyed-Satyr (Euptychia attenboroughi).
Photo credit: Andrew Neild, Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London; CC-BY 4.0

So far, Neild and his colleagues have collected only six specimens of the butterfly from Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, all within 500 kilometers of each other in the north-west of the upper Amazon basin.

The species is very rarely collected, the authors write in the paper, “but this may not reflect reality in the field; rather its perceived scarcity may simply be the result of its apparently highly restricted distribution in an area of the Amazon basin that has been, and still is, very little explored.”

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