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Newly discovered butterfly named after Nicolaus Copernicus

Newly discovered butterfly named after Nicolaus Copernicus

Researchers from the Jagiellonian University have announced the discovery of a new species of butterfly. The insect endemic to the Peruvian Andes received the Latin name Catasticta copernicus. In this way, scientists are paying homage to the great astronomer and polymath Nicolaus Copernicus to mark the 550th anniversary of his birth.



Catasticta is a diverse genus of butterflies in the family Pieridae, which to date consists of more than 100 species. The genus has received attention from numerous researchers and it seemed it was fairly well-documented.

In spite of that, entomologists have identified a new species in the genus: Catasticta copernicus. It is found exclusively in the Peruvian Andes, on the forest edge at an altitude of around 3,500 meters above sea level. The males are highly territorial, driving away other insects from the spots where they await females. They choose strategic locations over the crowns of trees or sharp mountain ridges and actively patrol it during midday.

The discovery proves that we can still learn more about many regions of the world, and only conscientious field work can help us in that process, before there are too many man-made environmental changes.

In the collection of the Nature Education Centre, there are four specimens of this species (three males and one female). Additionally, a eleven other specimens are known to exist in collections across Europe. The first of those specimens were collected in 2021 in central Peru during an expedition led by  Christera Fåhraeusa from the University of Lund (Sweden). One of the expedition’s participants was Prof. Tomasz Pyrcz from the JU Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research. The species Catasticta was described in the scientific journal Zootaxa by a team of authors, three of whom are affiliated with the University.

 

Left: The habitat of Catasticta copernicus. Right: Transporting personnel and equipment to carry out field work using a helicopter. Photographs: T. Pyrcz.

 

Source: JU Nature Education Centre

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