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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Praying Mantis Named for Justice Because of Gender or Jewelry?

Image: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Praying Mantis Named for Justice Because of Gender or Jewelry?
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By    |   Thursday, 02 Jun 2016 10:31 AM

Ruth Bader Ginsburg now has a species of praying mantis named for her by naturalists using a new female genitalia identification method. The U.S, Supreme Court justice hasn't said whether she takes it as a compliment.

Different reasons have been offered for the naming honor. The sponsoring institution cites gender equality. Snarky people might say the two look alike. 

Nope, say researchers Sydney Brannoch and Gavin Svenson. They named the Madagascar-based, leaf-dwelling Ilomantis ginsburgae for Ginsburg for her appreciation of the jabot, a decorative neck accessory which resembles the neck plate of the insect.

Brannoch and Svenson work at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a Cleveland Museum of Natural History statement said they named the species after Ginsburg "for her relentless fight for gender equality."

The two researchers discovered the species while pioneering a new method of identifying praying mantises by establishing a female genitalia system. The museum said male genitalia characteristics to this point have been the standard in identifying insect species.

The research was recently published in the journal Insects Systematics & Evolution.

"As a feminist biologist, I often questioned why female specimens weren't used to diagnose most species," said Brannoch, lead author of the study. "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."

The Washington Post said Brannoch and Svenson have studied 30 female specimens from different museum collections, distinguishing genital characteristics and using them to also distinguish species. They then compared the results of their technique to more traditional methods.

"This adds to the working toolkit that researchers can use to identify the insects, which will allow them to more accurately distinguish one species from another," said the Post. "And it makes it easier for species to be identified and categorized into families based on female insects alone."

The gender study was done as part of Svenson's wider research project that focused on the evolutionary patterns of relationship, distribution, and complex features of praying mantises, said the museum.

Ginsburg, 83, was the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court after Sandra Day O'Connor, according to Biography.com.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg now has a species of praying mantis named for her by naturalists using a new female genitalia identification method. The Supreme Court justice hasn't said whether she takes it as a compliment.
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2016-31-02
Thursday, 02 Jun 2016 10:31 AM
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