Via Slate, a new praying mantis species discovered by a female scientist who identified the species by studying female specimens rather than male has named the creature after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Ilomantis ginsburgae, as the species is now known, was identified through a somewhat unusual scientific process. Typically, researchers study mantis specimens’ male genitalia to delineate their species. But Sydney Brannoch, the Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University who led the ginsburgae study, decided to study female mantis’ genitalia instead—and, thanks to her innovation, was able to distinguish Ilomantis ginsburgae as a new species. (The specimen she studied had actually been sitting around since 1967; you can learn more about Brannoch’s methodology here.)
“This research establishes the validity of using female specimens in the classification of praying mantises,” Brannoch concluded. “It is my hope that our work not only sets a precedent in taxonomy but also underscores the need for scientists to investigate and equally consider both sexes in other scientific investigations.”
Brannoch named the mantis after Ginsburg on account of the justice’s “relentless fight for gender equality”—an apt tribute, given the feminist-tinged method by which ginsburgae was discovered. The researcher also chose Ginsburg because of her love of jabots, the frilly lace collar the justice often wears on her robes. Brannoch sees a jabot-type quality in the mantis’ neck plate.
The only thing that could make this story any cooler is if some experiment goes awry in the lab, producing a giant, marauding mutant Ilomantis ginsburgae that travels to Washington, DC and bites the heads off Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy on President Hillary Clinton’s inauguration day. Open thread!