Smaller than a postage note, rusty in color and with metallic scales on the wings, a new butterfly species has been named at the Florida Museum of Natural History — after a Youtuber.
The museum officially announced the discovery of the new species, Wahydra graslieae, March 8, said Andrew Warren, the senior collections manager of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The butterfly is named after Emily Graslie, Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History’s chief curiosity correspondent and Youtuber.
In 2013, Graslie started an educational YouTube channel called “The Brain Scoop,” she said. The channel gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at natural history museums across the country.
“I am really proud and honored for this sort of recognition,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting as someone who has spent the last five years of their life trying to advocate for the importance of natural history research and taxonomy.”
Graslie, who lives in Chicago, has never seen the butterfly in person, but she said she hopes to make a visit to the museum soon.
Warren said the species, Wahydra graslieae, was first collected by Warren’s collaborator Harold Greeney in Ecuador in 2004. But Warren and the team of researchers did not begin studying the butterfly until 2016, he said. The butterfly was officially announced through a scientific paper March 8.
Warren said there have been no other sighting reports of the butterfly in the wild or in any natural history museum collections.
Warren saw Graslie’s YouTube channel during the first year it was active and liked it so much he showed three other researchers, he said. About four years later, Warren still keeps up with Graslie’s videos. He said they met in 2014 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences while skinning squirrels.
When Warren and his team had to decide on a name for the new species, they thought of Graslie to recognize the effort she’s put into promoting natural history collections, Warren said.
“Our goal was to honor Emily in a professional manner in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote natural history collections,” he said.