New Madagascar Praying Mantis Named After Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Posted on June 1, 2016

Ilomantis ginsburga

A new praying mantis discovered in Madagascar has been named in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The species is named Ilomantis ginsburga. The holotype was originally collected in 1967 and is housed at the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle of Paris, France.

The scientists from The Cleveland Museum of Natural History used female genital to identify the new species of leaf-dwelling mantis. Male genitalia characters have historically been a standard in classifying insect species. The scientists also established a female genitalia character system. They say they chose to honor Ginsburg with the name "for her relentless fight for gender equality." They also named the species for Ginsburg for her appreciation of the jabot, a decorative neck accessory, which resembles the neck plate of the insect.

Sydney Brannoch at Case Western Reserve University


Sydney Brannoch, a Ph.D. candidate at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, led the research. She says, "This species description of Ilomantis ginsburgae is novel since it relied heavily on the features of the female genitalia. 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."

Ilomantis ginsburgae are green in color with conical eyes and a flattened body. They mantis have a venation that resembles the vein patterns found on leaves. Take a look:



A research paper on the new species was published here in the journal, Insect Systematics & Evolution.

Top Photo: Rick Wherley, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Second Photo: Laura Dempsey, Cleveland Museum of Natural History