New beetle species named after The Beatles

A beetle species new to science has been discovered by citizen scientists – and named after the legendary music group The Beatles.

The Beatles (l to r) Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison show off their MBE medals after their investiture at Buckingham Palace. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty

Last year, a group of entomologists and citizen scientists surveyed Vondelpark, the busiest city park in Amsterdam, and discovered a beetle species that was new to science.

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Found only a stone’s throw away from the Amsterdam Hilton, where 50 years previously John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their Bed-Ins For Peace, the beetle was named in honour of The Beatles – Ptomaphagus thebeatles.

“There was one Beatle sleeping in a hotel in Amsterdam (John Lennon with Yoko Ono), while another beetle was waiting to be discovered,” saysRuud Marschall, one of the citizen scientists taking part. “As a former citizen of Amsterdam, it was amazing to find that new beetle species in the middle of our capital.”

Ptomaphagus thebeatles. © M. Schilthuizen/Taxon Expeditions
Ptomaphagus thebeatles. © M. Schilthuizen/Taxon Expeditions

The surveys were organised by Taxon Expeditions, an organisation founded by Iva Njunjić and Menno Schilthuizen of Naturalis Biodiversity Center which organises scientific expeditions for the general public. 

Participants in the Vondelpark survey examining specimens. © I. Njunjic/Taxon Expeditions
Participants in the Vondelpark survey examining specimens. © I. Njunjic/Taxon Expeditions

Iva Njunjić, director of Taxon Expeditions: “Normally, we organise expeditions to remote places like the jungles of Borneo. This time, we wanted to show that you can discover new animal species even in the heart of the capital of The Netherlands, which, in terms of biodiversity, is probably the best studied country in the world.”

During the survey, a new species of parasitic wasp was also discovered, which was named after the park – Aphaereta vondelparkensis.

Read the full paper in Contributions to Zoology.


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Main image: The Beatles (l to r) Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison show off their MBE medals after their investiture at Buckingham Palace. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty