Tuxedo-wearing beetle named after rock star legend
www.chinaview.cn 2008-01-29 14:26:59   Print

    BEIJING, Jan. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- A new species of beetle that has something in common with penguins -- it looks as if it's wearing a tuxedo -- has been named in honor of the late rock 'n' roll legend Roy Orbison and his widow Barbara.

    Entomologist Quentin Wheeler of Arizona State University announced the discovery and naming of the beetle, now dubbed Orectochilus orbisonorum, during a Roy Orbison Tribute Concert on Jan. 25.

    The ending of the species name, "orum," denotes it was named after a couple. If the beetle were just named after Roy it would end in "i," and for just Barbara, the name would end in "ae."

    Barbara Orbison, who attended the concert along with Orbison's sons Wesley and Roy Kelton Orbison Jr., remarked on her appreciation for the new species name.

    "I have never seen an honor like that," she said.

    To mark the occasion, Wheeler presented Barbara with an original work of art titled "Whirligig." Completed by ASU scientist and artist Charles J. Kazilek, the painting included nine images of a whirligig beetle on cotton watercolor paper.

    Less than a quarter-inch long (five millimeters), O. orbisonorum belongs to the Gyrinidae family, a group of beetles that typically live on the surface of the water. Called whirligigs because they swim rapidly in circles when alarmed, the beetles have "divided" eyes that can see both above and below the water. A band of material separates the eyes so that on first glance you'd think the insect was four-eyed.

    Unlike other members of the Indian Gyrinidae, however, this one has a white underbelly due to a clear cuticle through which the white internal tissues are easily visible. Its top surface is shiny black with dull patches covered with dense, tiny hairs.

    "The contrast between the two areas is visually very stunning," Wheeler said. "It almost looks like it's wearing a tuxedo," Wheeler said.


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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