As it turns out, Australian scientists are Marvel fans too.
Scientists at the federal government agency CSIRO gave scientific names to 165 new species this year – and picked five flies to name after the world’s favorite superheroes and villains within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There’s the Thor fly in tribute of the God of Thunder, played in Marvel by Chris Hemsworth. Its scientific name is “Daptolestes bronteflavus,” which is derived from Latin like most scientific names – and translates to “blond thunder.”
The Thor fly has flecks of gold and light brown on its body, antennae, and face, calling to mind Thor’s blond hair and the gold features on his outfits.
There’s the Loki fly, in honor of the tortured God of Mischief, whose scientific name is “Daptolestes illusiolautus,” meaning elegant deception. Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, fakes his own death at one point, betrays other characters, and uses visual illusions.
Black Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff, also has her own fly – “Daptolestes feminategus,” meaning woman wearing leather, in reference to Scarlett Johansson’s iconic leather suit worn in the movies.
Deadpool also has his own fly, colored orange-red and black, the same as Deadpool’s suit – and it shares similar markings as Deadpool’s mask.
“We chose the name Humorolethalis sergius (for Deadpool). It sounds like lethal humor and is derived from the Latin words humorosus, meaning wet or moist, and lethalis meaning dead,” said CSIRO entomologist Dr. Bryan Lessard in a statement on Wednesday.
The Deadpool fly is a species of Robber fly, which are “assassins of the insect world” – fitting for the mercenary antihero.
Finally, there’s a Stan Lee fly, in honor of the late Marvel Comics visionary. Lee is known as the founding force behind the modern Marvel behemoth, and co-created Spider-Man and many other popular characters. The fly, named “Daptolestes leei,” has markings on its face reminiscent of Lee’s characteristic sunglasses and white mustache.
Naming newly discovered species is an “important superpower in solving many of the world’s challenges,” said the CSIRO statement.
The scientists also named 151 new insects, eight new plants, two new fish, one new mite, three new subspecies of bird, and 25 marine invertebrates, some of which were discovered several decades ago and remained unnamed, while others were a more recent find.
The names for these aren’t quite as whimsical, but some do pay tribute to other things – for instance, they named two species after “Investigator,” the research ship that discovered them.
Naming species allows scientists to have a little fun, but the meticulous process is also vital for researchers, conservationists, and other types of experts. Being able to identify and differentiate between species allows experts to learn more about them and to “help save their lives and our own,” said the statement.
Only about a quarter of Australian insects are known to science, said Lessard in the study. The statement added, “the more species are named, the better we can understand their super powers.”