Little Fly with a Big Name | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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Little Fly with a Big Name

New species of “big-armed fly” named after Arnold Schwarzenegger

On the left, Arnold Schwarzenegger before defending the title for his fifth Mr. Olympia contest in 1974. On the right, a technical drawing by Tyler Hayden of a new species of fly with enlarged limbs. Can you see the resemblance?

 

When NHMLA Entomology Curator Brian Brown discovered a bizarre new fly species in the Brazilian Amazon, it reminded him of someone. "As soon as I saw those bulging legs, I knew I had to name this one after Arnold," says Brown. "Not only is he a major cultural icon and an important person in the political realm, his autobiography gave me some hope that I could improve my body as a skinny teenager." For these reasons, Brown says, the former California governor deserves to have the new fly named in his honor.

Mr. Schwarzenegger took to Twitter to thank Dr. Brown for his new six-legged namesake, Megapropodiphora arnoldi.

a screenshot of a tweet from Arnold Schwarzenegger that reads, Thanks for the great honor, Dr. Brown. Now I’m committed to making sure we get your thighs as muscular as the fly’s!

Though it’s now named after one of the biggest celebrities on the planet, this fly is, in fact, the world's smallest known fly, according to Brown, who should know, since he had previously described what was formerly the world's smallest fly, measuring just 0.400 mm in body length. Megapropodiphora arnoldi is just a fraction smaller, coming in at 0.395 mm.

It is known only from one female specimen that was almost overlooked, said Brown, “because it is so incredibly small."

Unlike Arnold, Megapropodiphora arnoldi may be a parasite,“probably of ants or termites,” says Brown. He speculates that these flies probably grab onto the hosts and "hold on for dear life" until they reach a nest or colony where they can parasitize (or, perhaps… terminate?) their victims more effectively.

a microscopic view of a new species of fly
Photomicrograph of the female of the new species Megapropodiphora arnoldi.

 

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