A minute species of beetle has been named Nelloptodes gretae in honour of the 16-year-old Swedish campaigner and her ‘outstanding contribution’ to raising global awareness.
The beetle, which has no eyes or wings, measures less than 1mm in length and belongs to the Ptiliidae family, made up of the world’s smallest beetles.
It has been in London’s Natural History museum since 1978 but it wasn’t until Dr Michael Darby spotted it recently that scientists realised it was a new species.
Dr Darby, a scientific associate at the Natural History Museum, said: ‘I chose this name as I am immensely impressed with the work of this young campaigner and wanted to acknowledge her outstanding contribution in raising awareness of environmental issues.’
The beetle was first found in 1965 in Nairobi, Kenya by British naturalist Dr William C Block.
His collection was donated to the Natural History Museum in 1978 and the beetle was spotted by Dr Darby while he was studying the museum’s Spirit Collection.
Dr Max Barclay, senior curator in charge of Coleoptera at the Natural History Museum, said: ‘The name of this beetle is particularly poignant since it is likely that undiscovered species are being lost all the time, before scientists have even named them, because of biodiversity loss – so it is appropriate to name one of the newest discoveries after someone who has worked so hard to champion the natural world and protect vulnerable species.’
The beetle has been featured in The Entomologist journal’s monthly magazine.
The young activist, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, later awarded to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is currently in the States raising awareness on climate change.
Starting out as a lone 15-year-old staying home from school on Fridays in 2018, she has inspired school strikes and massive protests all around the world.