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Game of Thrones' iconic dragons now have beetle species named after them
Winter is coming for this particular critter.
With a little more than three months to go before HBO premieres the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist Bret Ratcliffe is paying loving tribute to George R.R. Martin's seminal fantasy series by naming three new scarab species of beetle after a trio of its most iconic characters.
The bugs have been officially dubbed drogoni, rhaegali, and viserioni, respectively, from the genus Gymnetis — Latinized versions of Daenerys Targaryen's beloved dragons Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion.
A big GOT fan, Ratcliffe says he chose the names because the insects have orange features that recall the image of dragon fire. And according to the scientist, such designations serve his specialty by educating the public on the importance of biodiversity.
"When you create names like these, you do it to gain a little bit of notoriety and bring public attention to it," the scientist told The Omaha World-Herald. "We're still discovering life on Earth. One of every four living things on Earth is a beetle. We haven't discovered them all. We're not even close."
Talk about your beetlemania.
Ratcliffe discovered drogoni and viserioni in the rainforests of Colombia and Ecuador, while rhaegali was found only in nearby French Guiana.
The scientist added that such honorifics also help him and his fellow researchers shed their stuffy reputations and show they have a sense of humor, too.
"I've often thought that scientists take themselves too seriously, and this is a way to circumvent that," he said.
Ratcliffe isn't the only one taking inspiration from pop culture. Back in July, a new species of wasp was named Eadya daenerys, after the Mother of Dragons herself.
That same month, scientists at the University of Adelaide in Australia bestowed a new species of pararitoid wasps with the appropriate name Dolichogenidea xenomorph, after — what else? — H.R. Giger's nightmarish chest-bursting creature from the Alien movies.
Harry Potter, meanwhile, has gotten in on the action with other scientists naming another parasitoid wasp Lusius malfoyi, after Voldemort's right-hand man, Death Eater Lucius Malfoy. While a newly discovered cockroach wasp was given Ampulex dementor, after the Dementors that tormented the lightning-scarred magician in J.K. Rowling's series.
And taking the name game to new heights (or lows in this case), a team of geologists who discovered a new giant cave in a remote corner of Wells Gray Provincial Park in the Canadian province of British Columbia has officially declared it Sarlacc's Pit. The name, of course, hails from Star Wars' infamous ghoulish monster that dwells in the sand pits of Tattoine and slowly digests its victims over 1,000 years.
Gotta love scientists.