Praying mantis
Rick Wherley, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Mantis named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg may usher in new way to classify insects

A new species of praying mantis has been identified based on female genitals for the first time, a break from the traditional use of male genitalia for insect species classification. Insects with a hook-shaped penis might be classified as one species, whereas those with slightly curved genitalia might be classified as another. Male genitalia have long been preferred because of their seemingly wider—and more easily observed—variety of shapes and sizes. Ilomantis ginsburgae is a leaf-dwelling mantis from Madagascar, according to a new study in Insect Systematics & Evolution. It was named in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strong supporter of gender equality and a regular wearer of jabot collars, which resemble the neck plate of the insect. The scientists hope that this new identification will help make species classification easier by increasing the number of possible ways to differentiate bugs.