By: Anthony Viola
Researchers in Central Park named their recent discovery after Professor David Lohman. Since 2009, Lohman has instructed biology at The City College of New York. In his work as a researcher, he has traveled around Asia, capturing insects for his work and for the work of his colleagues. As a means of gratitude, they’ve named a new fly species after him.
Finding new breeds of flies isn’t rare. According to Lohman, there are more unknown species of flies than there are known species. This particular discovery was unique because researchers captured the insect in Central Park. In a manmade, isolated part in the middle of New York City, it’s unlikely to come across new wildlife.
The bug, now officially Themira lohmanus, lives on duck feces. At first inspection, the researchers compared it to another species found in Europe. After closer examination on lohmanus’s genetics, research concluded the two species were diverged, although possibly from a similar ancestor.
When choosing the name, the discoverers developed their own criteria. “Apparently, they wanted to name it after someone who lived in New York, and the choices were me or Donald Trump,” states Lohman. “They would definitely get a lot of press if they named it after Donald Trump, but it wouldn’t be entirely positive.”
Lohman has two other species named after him as well. One of them is an orchid, which was recognized by one of his students from Singapore. “I helped him prepare an application for graduate school in China, and out of the gratitude for that, he shared with me that he submitted a manuscript with this orchid that will be named after me,” explains Lohman. The species is still in the proposal phase.
Another species, Chimaeragathis lohmani, was also named for the professor. Lohman caught this wasp breed for a colleague while he was in Thailand. He explains that plants, animals, and viruses all have different rules when giving it a name.
As an entomologist, Lohman continues to research bug species, focusing primarily on butterflies. He explains that unlike many other insects, most butterfly species have been discovered. As a result, researchers like Lohman can have more comprehensive inquiries of butterflies. This in-depth ability relative to butterflies intrigues the professor. “You can ask questions with this well-known group that you can’t with any other,” says Lohman.
Themira lohmanus is the newest species discovered in Central Park to date. Since its original sighting, it has also been seen in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.