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New antbird species named for E.O. Wilson

Fern Davies

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The world-renowned biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson received the honor of having a new species of antbird named after him in recognition of his lifetime contribution to scientific discovery and conservation. Dr. Wilson is a myrmecologist, an entomologist who studies ants, and is known as the “father of biodiversity” for being the first scientist to publish the term in 1988. The new antbird species named after him, Myrmoderus eowilsoni, will be described in the scientific journal The Auk this week.

“The idea of [having] a bird named after you is right up there with maybe the Nobel [Prize], because it’s such a rarity to have a true new species discovered, and I do take it as a great personal honor,” said Dr. Wilson.

Myrmoderus eowilsoni was discovered in northern Peru by Josh Beck during a 2016 birding expedition. As the main author of the description co-written by a team of scientists, Beck decided to name the new antbird species in honor of Dr. Wilson after discussing the possibility with Rainforest Trust President and distinguished ornithologist Dr. Robert Ridgely.

“As Dr. Wilson and I were discussing the possibility of his joining Rainforest Trust’s Board of Directors, it occurred to me that he didn’t have anything other than several ant species named after him,” said Dr. Ridgely. “This for a pre-eminent scientist so highly regarded for his insights on biodiversity! Josh and I agreed this was the perfect, and long overdue, opportunity to name a vertebrate species after him. Even better, it was an antbird!”

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