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Stephen Colbert is now a beetle too

May 7, 2009 |  5:44 pm


Political satirist Stephen Colbert has fame and (presumably) fortune. Now he has his own beetle.

Two enterprising scientists have named a new species of beetle after the host of “The Colbert Report.” The insect, a “diving beetle” from Venezuela, is officially Agaporomorphus colberti.The Stephen Colbert beetle

The scientists, Quentin Wheeler and Kelly Miller, announced the naming in time for Colbert's 45th birthday May 13. A thoughtful gift, indeed. And though an effort to name a NASA space station after Colbert failed, a six-legged arthropod has its own charms.

“Last year, Stephen shamelessly asked the science community to name something cooler than a spider to honor him. His top choices were a giant ant or a laser lion. While those would be cool species to discover, our research involves beetles, and they are ‘way cooler’ than a spider any day,” said Wheeler in a statement released by Arizona State University.

Wheeler, among his many roles, is director of ASU’s International Institute for Species Exploration. Miller is an assistant professor of biology at the University of New Mexico and curator of arthropods (we love that word) at UNM’s Museum of Southwestern Biology.

This isn’t the first time Wheeler and Miller have named a species after a notable person. They named beetles after President George W. Bush (Agathidium bushi) and Dick Cheney (A. cheneyi). They even named a beetle after Roy Orbison (Orectochilus orbisonorum) and the fictional Darth Vader (A. vaderi). We’re guessing that A. cheneyi and A. vaderi share similar characteristics.

And speaking of politicians and the natural world, even our newly minted president has a species named after him. As The Ticket previously reported, a UC Riverside scientist decided to honor Barack Obamawith Caloplaca obamae. It’s not an insect—not even an animal. It’s a lichen.

-- Steve Padilla

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Colbert photo: Getty Images for "Meet the Press"; Beetle photo: Kelly Miller and Quentin Wheeler