Erakina

How did a Superstar name a newly discovered ant?- Erakina

Published Date : February 7, 2022

When Philip Hoenle discovered an ant that had long trap-jaw mandibles and smooth, shiny cuticles, it wasn’t difficult for him to comprehend that it was a new species of ant. The ant was transported to an entomologist, Douglas B. Booher, intoxicated in ethanol(wink)… 

The Ecuadorian Ant.
The newly discovered ant species.

Hoenle wanted to share the honour of naming and discovering a new species of ant along with Booher. Douglas Booher was a research associate in the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change and the Department of Ecology and Evolution Biology. 

The exceptionally long trap-jaw mandibles and the shining cuticles made it an interesting ant to be researched on and named thereafter. 

The rainforests of Ecuador provided a great chance to Hoenle and Booher to name an ant on a person whose community had never been respected or honoured in this way in which I’m going to tell you……..  

Who is the person? 

Booher had not always been an entomologist. Prior to being this, he was a businessman doing construction work. He got in friendship with a person named Charles Jeremy Ayers

This person Ayers was of a different kind when compared to the rest. He was an inquisitive person and had great camaraderie with each person around him. Thus, he had a large number of acquaintances and friends. 

Ayers was a champion of the then ignored community which is now known as the LGBTQ community. He went back to his hometown Athens, Greece and opened an artistic community welcoming all straight, gays, lesbians. The community got quite popular shortly due to its diversity in gender.

Athens city in Greece.
Hometown of Ayers where he first welcomed people of all genders.

The community, more specifically Ayers, attracted Booher. He met Ayers and got motivated to realise his true passion for being an entomologist. Ayers was a person who accepted a person as he was, he let them be what they are. 

Ayers was also cast by film director and potentate of New York’s pop art theatre, Andy Warhol in a 15-minute role as a drag. Ayers was dressed extravagantly with dark red lips, dark mascara over the eyes, silk satin shirt and tie, exaggerated poses and a trademark cigarette between his lips; for Silva Thin ads. 

Jeremy Ayers.
Ayers performing as a drag for Silva Thin cigarette ads.

The character was one of Warhol’s legions of ‘Superstars’…!!…  

Why was Ayers chosen? 

Booher wanted to celebrate the attitude of Ayers towards life and his approach to gender diversity in the world. Certain changes had to be done due to this choice but that was eased out by the International Code of Nomenclature in the year 2007. 

The Code designated that it wasn’t necessary to specify the gender of the person in the scientific name of a species that is being named after an individual. Earlier the nomenclature used was: 

  • The Latin suffix ‘ae’ was used to indicate a female.
  • The Latin suffix ‘i’ was used to indicate a Male.

Booher chose the name Strumigenys ayers for the new species of the ant but he knew that Ayers would shy away from such an honour which was given to him individually. 

So another nomenclature was introduced to name a species irrespective of gender. 

The newly added suffix is- ‘they’.  

The new name of the Ecuadorian ant is Strumigenys ayersthey.

This suffix encompasses all the people celebrating and embracing diversity in the gender norms. It represents every member of the LGBTQ community and celebrates its acceptance and variety. 

The flag of the LGBTQ community.
Ayers became the flag bearer of the community in Athens.

Ayers was a person of extreme love for biodiversity and the environment. He was a superstar of ‘his’ community. He was the HERO… 

What a man Ayers was…!!… 

-by SAMBHAVI YADAV

Content Writer (Erakina By RTMN)

21.11.2021

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