Meets Strumigenys ayerstheyAnt from Ecuador, thanks to the ending “they,” is the first creature to have a gender-neutral scientific name.
The ant was discovered in a rainforest in 2018 by Philip Honel of Darmstadt Technical University in Germany and was described this week after classification scientist Douglas Boehler of Yale University. In the trade magazine ZooKeys keys.
Traditionally, animal nouns in Latin take the feminine ending “ae” or the masculine ending “i”, but Buehler preferred to use the non-binary “them”. That was more convenient because the animal was named after Jeremy Ayers. A human rights activist who died in 2016 under the wing of artist Andy Warhol, he also became known as Silva Thien in the 1970s, a role in which he wanted to blur boundaries between the sexes. Ayers has identified himself as a gay man, but he has been an outspoken advocate of non-binary rights for years.
As early as 2007, it became clear that in the International Code for Naming, the rules that define how scientific names are chosen, it is allowed to deviate from the gender of the person after which the animal is named to the chosen ending.
“Coffee fanatic. Friendly zombie aficionado. Devoted pop culture practitioner. Evil travel advocate. Typical organizer.”