Scientists from the Jagiellonian University discovered a new species of butterfly in the Peruvian Andes. They named it Catasticta copernicus, after Nicolaus Copernicus. According to researchers, this species occurs on the edge of the forest at an altitude of about 3,500 meters above sea level.
Catasticta is a genus of butterflies from the white-tailed butterfly family, in which over 100 species have been distinguished and described so far.
“This genus attracts the attention of many researchers and seems to be quite well known. Meanwhile, scientists from the Jagiellonian University (UJ) have identified its new species. Catasticta copernicus occurs on the forest border at an altitude of approximately 3,500 meters above sea level in the Peruvian part of the Andes,” said a press release on the university’s website.
Males Catasticta copernicus they are highly territorial and drive other insects away from the place where they are waiting for females. They choose strategic positions above a tree canopy or a sharp mountain ridge and actively guard it in the afternoon hours. As Dr. Rafał Garlacz, deputy director of the Natural Science Education Center of the Jagiellonian University, pointed out on the university’s website, “the discovery of a new species proves that the level of knowledge of many regions of the world is still insufficient and only intensive field research can help fill this gap before these areas are irretrievably lost.” destroyed by man.” Four specimens are kept in the collections of the Jagiellonian University’s Nature Education Center Catasticta copernicus (three males and one female), and another 11 specimens are in other collections in Europe. The first specimens were obtained in 2021 in central Peru by a scientific expedition organized by Christer Fahraeus from the University of Lund (Sweden). Professor Tomasz Pyrcz from the Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research of the Jagiellonian University also participated in this expedition.
“The area that was studied is a very inaccessible area of the Andes. Reaching previously unexplored places required the use of a helicopter and the involvement of the Peruvian army. During the research, many other species of butterflies from various taxonomic groups were discovered,” the university reported. Species Catasticta copernicus was described in the scientific journal “Zootaxa” by a team of authors, three of whose members are employees of the Jagiellonian University.
Name in part of Nicolaus Copernicus
By naming the butterfly, scientists from the Jagiellonian University paid tribute to the outstanding and versatile scientist Nicolaus Copernicus. – Every researcher discovering a species new to science has the privilege of choosing a name for it. Although the name must comply with the relevant code, there is a lot of freedom as to its meaning, Garlacz said. Once a name is given, it cannot be removed or erased – its trace remains forever in the scientific literature. – Honoring a person by borrowing a name from his or her name or surname is a kind of monument that cannot be toppled – he added. He emphasized that “the road to determining that the examined specimen belongs to a new species can be long and arduous.” – First of all, it requires verifying and checking information about already known species in all available collections and literature. This often involves the need to perform various analyzes – both morphological and anatomical, but also molecular or biochemical – said Garlacz, quoted on the Jagiellonian University website. Only the results from all procedures allow us to confidently confirm the discovery of a new species.
– Taxonomic research is a long process conducted in a very narrow specialization, which is necessary to learn about evolutionary relationships – he explained.
Main photo source: Jagiellonian University, Pyrcz & Fåhraeus