BERLIN: Scientists have discovered 103 beetle species in Indonesia which are new to science, and named one of them after the Star Wars character Yoda while three others after characters from French comics series The Adventures of Asterix.
The Indonesian island of Sulawesi has been long known for its enigmatic fauna, including the deer-pig and the midget buffalo, said researchers from the Natural History Museum in Germany and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
However, small insects inhabiting the tropical forests have remained largely unexplored, they said in a statement.
Only a single species of the tiny weevils of the genus Trigonopterus had been known from the island since 1885.
In the study published in the journal ZooKeys, the researchers discovered a total of 103 new species, all identified as Trigonopterus.
"Our survey is not yet complete and possibly we have just scratched the surface," said Raden Pramesa Narakusumo, curator of beetles at the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB), Indonesian Research Center for Biology.
"Sulawesi is geologically complex and many areas have never been searched for these small beetles," Narakusumo said in a statement.
While some of the weevils were best associated with their localities or characteristic morphology, others received quite curious names, researchers said.
A small greenish and forest-dwelling species was aptly named after the Star Wars character Yoda, while a group of three species were named after Asterix, Obelix and Idefix -- the main characters in The Adventures of Asterix.
Naturally, Trigonopterus obelix is larger and more roundish than his two 'friends', researchers said.
Other curious names include T artemis and T satyrus, named after two Greek mythological characters: Artemis, the goddess of hunting and nature and Satyr, a male nature spirit inhabiting remote localities, they said.
The names of four of the newly described beetles pay tribute to renowned biologists, including Charles Darwin, Paul D N Hebert, who implemented DNA barcoding as a tool in species identification, and Francis H C Crick and James D Watson, the discoverers of the structure of DNA.
Sulawesi is at the heart of Wallacea, a biogeographic transition zone between the Australian and Asian regions, researchers said.
They assume that Trigonopterus weevils originated in Australia and New Guinea and later reached Sulawesi.