The Trigonopterus viridescens is among the 101 new species of weevils—flightless beetles in the Curculionoidea superfamily—found in the tropical rainforest of Papua New Guinea. The species is distinguished by its green luster, and its name incorporates the Latin word viridescens, meaning greenish.
While the names of most of the 101 beetles include Latin words that describe their physical features, some were named after the beetles' locality. One got a moniker in honor of the researchers' colleague Katayo Sagata, and another was named for prominent weevil expert Rene Tänzler.
In what is perhaps a first, ten names were chosen at random from the Papua New Guinea telephone book—a way of dedicating the discoveries to local families.
That's not the only new twist. To speed the process of describing all the different species within the hyperdiverse genus Trigonopterus, German entomologists Alexander Riedel of the Natural History Museum Karlsruhe and Michael Balke of the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology avoided the naming method traditionally used in taxonomy.
The traditional approach to naming relied only on structural descriptions, and it would have taken the scientists more than a lifetime to name all the beetles, given the many similarities among the insects.
Instead, the researchers sorted the different species by sequencing portions of each beetle's DNA. The results are published in Frontiers of Zoology. They then published a photo of each identified species in an online database called Species ID.
Pictures: 101 New Species of Beetles
To speed the naming of 101 new beetle species found in Papua New Guinea, scientists used DNA sequences ... and the telephone book.