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A scene looking straight into a dense tropical rain

New Wasp Species Discovered in Peruvian Amazon

…but does it tell the whole story?

Researchers have discovered a species of wasp new to science in the Peruvian Amazon. Meet amazonica Capitojoppa!

A group of scientists from the University of Turku, Finland, had been researching the biodiversity in Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve when they encountered this wasp species.

image by Kari Kaunisto taken from article

It is important, however, to acknowledge that this species discovery is only new to western science, but to the Indigenous peoples living in these rainforests, this wasp is likely to have already been ‘discovered’. In order to honour Indigenous peoples, there is an ongoing debate in the scientific community about naming species after Indigenous names that are already being used.

Len Gillman, a professor of biogeography at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand put it this way in a recent article, “It just struck me as a very colonial thing to do: to move into a place and essentially rename everything that already had names—names that embodied Indigenous people’s knowledge and were important for their sense of place and belonging,”.

It is important that we do not perpetuate the idea that the Amazon rainforest (and all ecosystems in general) is this pristine Eden of nature just waiting to be discovered by western scientists. Indigenous peoples have been living in rainforests for millenia and already have a deep understanding of why their biological diversity is vital for a healthy planet.

There are a thousand more species that have yet to be discovered by scientists who have and will have the privilege to call the rainforest their field site.

To acknowledge that these future “discoveries” are made possible because the people who own that land have kindly shared their knowledge or understanding of an intricate ecosystem would be a great step towards a more humble and inclusive scientific community.