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Newly Discovered Remote Satyr Butterfly Named After Naturalist David Attenborough

Dec 04, 2015 02:14 PM EST
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Satyr Butterfly
Satyr butterflies are known for their brown wings with conspicuous circular markings, otherwise known as false “eyes."
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

A rare new Black-eyed Satyr species discovered in a limited ecological niche of the Upper Amazon Basin was recently named after the famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough. This new butterfly, scientifically known as Euptychia attenboroughi, is restricted to only a few lowland tropical forests of the upper Amazon basin in Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil, all of which lie within 500 kilometers of each other, according to a news release.  

Attenborough's butterfly was discovered by an international team of researchers, led by Andrew F. E. Neild, of London's Natural History Museum, and Shinichi Nakahara, of Florida's Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida. The new species represents one of many named after Attenborough, who is the TV presenter for BBC Natural History's 'Life' series and a president of Butterfly Conservation.

"Other animals and plants have previously been dedicated to Sir David, but it makes us happy and proud to be the first to dedicate a butterfly species in his name," Neild said in the release. "Although we are a large team from several countries from across four continents and speaking different languages, we have all been deeply influenced and inspired by Sir David's fascinating and informative documentaries." (Scroll to read more...)

Euptychia attenboroughi
(Photo : Andrew Neild/Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.)
A new Black-eyed Satyr butterfly with atypical orange scaling was found in a remote region on the upper Amazon basin.

Satyr butterflies are known for their brown wings with conspicuous circular markings. These false "eyes" are inevitably used to distract or scare away predatory birds. This includes the Southern pearly-eyes (Enodia portlandia) that have dark spots on the margins of both their hind and forewings and are found primarily throughout southeast regions of the U.S. Satyr butterflies are abundant in the summer months, during which time they enjoy wooded areas and grasslands.

Attenborough's butterfly was classified as a new species based on its uniquely-patterned wings with prominent orange scaling.

"It was a surprise for us that DNA data supported inclusion of this new species in the existing genus Euptychia, since this species lacked a distinctive structural character which was considered to be shared by all members of the genus," Nakahara added.

In addition to E. attenboroughi, researchers describe a second new species in their study named E. sophiae, which lacks the orange morphology of Attenborough's butterfly. Instead E. sophiae has creamy-grey scales with black outlines surrounding its edges. Both species, however, exhibit external wing pattern elements and wing morphology that are atypical for the genus.

Their findings were recently published in the journal ZooKeys.

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