The yellow and black beetle seen from above

The leaf beetleĀ Metallactus londonpridei. Image: Davide Sassi.

New beetle is named after London Pride beer

A Brazilian beetle in the genus Metallactus has been named after an ale.

Entomologist Davide Sassi says the beetle is 'dedicated to the excellent beer which inspired some lovely evening meditations during visits to the Natural History Museum.'

The leaf beetle's full name is Metallactus londonpridei, and it has a yellow and black body, and black legs.

London Pride is the flagship beer of Fuller's Brewery, and it has been made in the city since the 1950s.

Davide found the new species in 2016 while working in the Museum's collections.

Davide has studied the taxonomy of leaf beetles for three decades, and his work takes all over the world.

Funded by a Synthesys grant, he spent 10 days at the Museum, examining the taxonomy of its beetle collections.

He says, 'It was an amazing cocktail of outstanding circumstances: my first time in London, my first time in the legendary Museum, and my first time dealing with such a breathtaking collection.

'The Museum collection contains specimens gathered by great explorers and scientists, including Darwin, Wallace, Bates and many others, and they were all sorted in a row under my microscope.' 

A close-up image of the beetle, seen from the side.

A close-up image of the beetle, seen from the side. Image: Davide Sassi.

 

Davide was relaxing in a pub on Gloucester Road after work one day when the idea of a new beetle name struck him.

He says, 'I ordered a beer, just pointing my finger towards one. It was exceptionally hot, and the air was stifling.

'I was really thirsty, and had a long sip and thought "What a tremendous beer!" I looked at the script on the glass and it said London Pride.'

Davide vowed to name his first London discovery after the beer, to remember his trip and his research.

Finding new species in Museums

Scientists don't have to be in the field to discover new species.

Plenty are found by researchers in the Museum archives, especially in insect collections. Sometimes, specimens have been misidentified or labelled wrongly in the past, and it is the job of taxonomists and curators to set the record straight.

If two animals look very similar to each other, it can sometimes take years for scientists to formally recognise them as separate species. Often an analysis of an animal's DNA is needed to tell the difference.

The Museum's beetle collection is among the oldest and most important in the world.

The collection contains between eight and ten million specimens, and more than 100,000 type specimens, housed in 22,000 drawers - so there is plenty of scope for new discoveries.

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