Deadpool, Thor, Loki, and Black Widow are just some of the colourful names given to five new species of Australian flies by the nation’s premier science agency.
The names, all based on Marvel comic characters, were assigned by the CSIRO in the past year and are included in a list of 165 new Australian species of insects and plants.
CSIRO Entomologist Dr Bryan Lessard, also known as ‘Bry the Fly Guy’, said only a quarter of Australian insects are known to science and the more named, the better.
But that doesn’t mean the names, and their scientific nomenclature, have to be boring.
The recently discovered Deadpool fly was so named because of the markings on its back, which resemble those on the mask of the wise-cracking comic and film mercenary and antihero.
“Deadpool fly is an assassin,” Dr Lessard said.
“We chose the name Humorolethalis sergius. It sounds like lethal humour and is derived from the Latin words humorosus, meaning wet or moist, and lethalis meaning dead.”
The other new fly species are:
* Thor’s fly, or Daptolestes bronteflavus meaning blond thunder.
* Loki’s fly, or Daptolestes illusiolautus meaning elegant deception.
* Black Widow’s fly, or Daptolestes feminategus meaning woman wearing leather.
CSIRO bee and wasp expert Dr Juanita Rodriguez said naming new species was fun but there was also a serious side.
“We discovered a new species of spider wasp that is only found in an area badly impacted by bushfires this summer, so now we can carefully monitor its recovery,” Dr Rodriguez said.
“Spider wasps have venom that could be useful for treating Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, but most Australian spider wasp species are unknown to science.”
The CSIRO list also includes two new species of colourful soldier flies discovered in debris in national parks burned in the summer bushfires.
“Soldier flies have an important role in nature as nutrient recyclers,” Dr Lessard said.
“We are interested in identifying new insect species that might be useful pollinators, nutrient recyclers or the next food source to support the agricultural sector.”
The CSIRO list of new species also includes eight plants, two fish, a mite that lives on a lizard and three new species of birds.