New Insect Species Named After Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaking at an annual Women’s History Month reception hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 2015.Credit: Allison Shelley/Getty Images/JTA

Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court justice, may have a university named for him.

But Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first female Jewish Supreme Court justice now has an entire species named for her, even if it is a rather small one: the leaf-dwelling Ilomantis ginsburgae, a newly identified type of praying mantis.

Ginsburg’s new namesake was discovered at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the museum announced in a news release Wednesday.

The new species is green, with a flattened body, conical eyes and broad wings with “venation that resembles the vein patterns on leaves,” according to the release.

Researchers said they named the Madagascar native for the 83-year-old Brooklyn native, known by some fans as the Notorious RBG, to honor the esteemed judge’s “relentless fight for gender equality.”

Like Ginsburg, the mantis is something of a feminist pioneer, since it is, according to the news release, the first mantis classified by distinct qualities in its female reproductive parts, rather than its male ones.

Lead author Sydney Brannoch, a Case Western Reserve University doctoral candidate working at the museum, said: “As a feminist biologist, I often questioned why female specimens weren’t used to diagnose most species. This research establishes the validity of using female specimens in the classification of praying mantises. 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.”

The authors  said another reason they named the species for Ginsburg is because its neck plate resembles the ruffled collars the judge frequently wears.

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