Emily Graslie has had a butterfly named after her in honour of her outreach efforts © Tom McNamara
Entomologists studying butterflies in a museum collection have decided to name a new species after Emily Graslie, the chief curiosity correspondent at The Field Museum and host of the YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop.
The small butterfly species, known from just a single specimen collected in 2014 from the Ecuadorian Andes by Dr Harold Greeney, has been named scientifically as Wahydra graslieae.
“We thought that after spending years explaining why specimens are important and bringing natural history collections to the attention of the public, Emily was definitely someone who should have a bug named after her,” says Dr Andy Warren, a senior collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “She was really overdue for this kind of recognition.”
Later that year she was hired by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History as their first-ever chief curiosity correspondent, and continues to host the popular channel.
In her videos, Graslie goes behind the scenes at the museum, often with the scientists working there, and covers a range of natural history topics, such as animal diversity, anatomy (including dissections), behaviour and more.
“I am absolutely honoured that Dr. Warren and his team saw fit to associate such a curious skipper with my name,” says Graslie. “I can’t wait for further research to reveal more information about them.”
The only known speciemn of Wahydra graslieae © Kristen Grace / Florida Museum
W. graslieae is a type of skipper butterfly, dark red-brown in colour with silver scales on the undersides of its hindwings.
The Wahydra genus is not very well-studied as they are small butterflies living at high elevations in Andean South America.
Warren explained that W. graslieae is darker than others in the genus, and the silver scales have previously only been found in other skipper genera.
“W. graslieae seems to be this whole new clade,” Warren said. “It’s expanding our concept of what Wahydra diversity looks like.”
Dr Andy Warren with the Florida Museum’s collection of Wahydra specimens. W. graslieae is in the bottom right hand corner of the display © Kristen Grace / Florida Museum