WATCH: Biologist explains why new praying mantis species was named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Researchers at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History marked their discovery of a new way to identify praying mantis species by naming a new species after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Washington Post reported.
“We named it for her in honor of her commitment to womens’ rights and gender equality,” said Sydney Brannoch. “We also named it for her in appreciation of the jabot, which is a lace bow that drapes around the neck.”
According to Brannoch and Gavin Svenson, Ilomantis ginsburgae has a neck plate that echoes Ginsburg’s signature neck bow. The new species was identified based on a specimen collected in Madagascar in 1967.
But what makes this discovery unique is that Brannoch and Swenson based their findings on the genitalia of female specimens.
“Traditionally in praying mantis taxonomy, we use the male genital characters to help delimit and describe new species,” she explained. “However, we were curious to see if we could use female genital characters to do the same thing.”
According to the Post, the duo researched 30 female specimens from different collections using genital characteristics to identify differences between the species.
“Many praying mantis species have males and females that look very different,” Svenson said in a statement. “If a person finds one sex, they may only be able to identify the specimen if their specimen’s sex matches what is known from previous research. Our work reduces this impediment by characterizing both sexes for praying mantis species.”
Watch Brannoch’s remarks on the new species, as posted online, below.