The newly described beetle species, Trigonopterus attenboroughi, was named in honour of Sir David Attenborough. Image: Alexander Riedel

Legendary naturalist that he is, it's no surprise Sir David Attenborough has been honoured taxonomically on many an occasion. Pitcher plants, ancient grasshoppers, spiders and long-beaked echidnas all boast Attenborough-inspired scientific monikers. And a new species recently joined that list: Trigonopterus attenboroughi, one of 98 new species discovered in a bumper beetle find on the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and Lombok.  

"[I]t was surprising that in Bali even areas regularly visited by package tours can be the home of unknown species," the authors say. Until now, just one member of the genus Trigonopterus (small weevils that live in the leaf litter on the forest floor) had been stored in museum collections around the world.  

The team, which included scientists from both Munich and India hope that their findings will boost support for projects that aim to protect the islands' biodiversity. "These beetles are wingless and usually stay for millions of years where they are. This makes them extremely vulnerable to changes of their habitat,” explains Yayuk R. Suhardjono, who worked on the project.

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The 98 new species of the beetle genus Trigonopterus described from Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands. Image: Alexander Riedel

He also notes that because many of Indonesia's native species are found in just one locality, threats like deforestation can be particularly damaging ... especially given that the island chain has already lost one-fifth of its natural rainforest, and estimates suggest up to 98 percent of the remaining forest will be destroyed over the next decade! 

"This habitat has become highly fragmented in the study area and many of its remnants harbour endemic species," the authors say. "Conservation measures must be intensified, especially in smaller and less famous sites to minimise the number of species threatened by extinction."

Top header image: Alexander Riedel