Famed Naturalist Sir David Attenborough Honored In New Beetle Species

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Famed BBC naturalist Sir David Attenborough can now add prehistoric beetle to his list of accomplishments. The “Planet Earth” host was honored in the naming of a new beetle species believed to live 49 million years ago.

Scientists from Denver’s Museum of Nature & Science Senior and the National Museum of Natural History of Luxembourg Invertebrate Zoology Collections Curator, identified the beetle species, which has been on exhibit inside the Denver Museum since 1995. The findings are published in the recent issue of the journal Papers in Palaeontology.

The frog-legged beetle, now, officially “Attenborough’s Beauty” or Pulchritudo attenboroughi, was discovered in the Green River Formation in Colorado.

“Attenborough’s Beauty” or Pulchritudo attenboroughi (Image: Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

‘One of the most magnificent beetle fossils ever found’

Beetle fossils are rare, and this one was first mistaken for a longhorn beetle. But the beetle’s intricate wing casing patterns caught Krell’s attention. And it was the intricate beauty that became the impetus for honoring the famed naturalist.

“This is one of the most magnificent beetle fossils ever found,” Frank Krell, Denver Museum of Nature & Science Senior Curator of Entomology, said in a statement. “The patterning is preserved in unsurpassed clarity and contrast, making this one of the best-preserved beetle fossils. It is most definitely deserving of its name.”

“Nobody imparts the grandeur and beauty of nature more impressively than Sir David. This fossil, unique in its preservation and beauty, is an apt specimen to honor such a great man,” Krell explained.

Sir David Attenborough. (Image: BBC / Extinction)

Sir David Attenborough

Attenborough inspired Krell with his nature documentaries, specials, and books about life on earth. He’s visited more than 90 countries, taking more than 400 trips to document the natural world.

The historian and broadcaster started out observing nature for the BBC some seven decades ago. But he has since become an outspoken voice for its conservation, too. In his 2020 documentary, “A Life on Our Planet,” he called his nine decades on earth his “witness statement,” explaining the changes and threats to the natural world he’s observed as a result of human activity.

Now 95, Attenborough is still going strong, sharing his message wherever he can. “A crime has been committed,” he told Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” interview in June, speaking to the climate crisis. “And it so happens that, I’m of such an age, that I was able to see it beginning.” 

The newly named beetle is still on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in the Prehistoric Journey Cenozoic Era section of the museum.


Lead image courtesy of BBC / Denver Museum of Nature and Science.


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