Thursday, 6 December 2018

New butterfly named for pioneering 17th-century entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian

Date:December 5, 2018
Source:Florida Museum of Natural History

More than two centuries before initiatives to increase the number of women in STEM fields, 52-year-old Maria Sibylla Merian sailed across the Atlantic on a largely self-funded scientific expedition to document the animals and plants of Dutch Suriname.

Born in Germany in 1647, Merian was a professional artist and naturalist whose close observations and illustrations were the first to accurately portray the metamorphosis of butterflies and moths and emphasize the intimate relationship between insects and their host plants.

Now, a new Central American butterfly species has been named in her honor.

Catasticta sibyllae is a rare, black butterfly known from only two male specimens found in Panama decades apart. One had been stowed, unidentified, in a drawer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History since the 1980s. The other was collected in May.

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