Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 2010 Volume 3

Beetle takes on mythical hero’s name
By Kate Harries
Condensed by Native Village

Pella glooscap

Euvira micmac
Nova Scotia: Since 2004, eight new beetles have been discovered in Nova Scotia. One has been named in honor of Glooscap, the mythical hero of the Wabanaki Confederacy. The Wabanaki Confederacy includes the Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet peoples.

Pella glooscapi is the second beetle to be given a name from Native culture.  It is just 3.5 millimeters long and was discovered in the mulch of highbush blueberry fields.

The other is Euvira micmac which was named in 2007 for the Mi’kmaq people. The spelling was changed because Latin is the language used when naming the world's plants and creatures.  Latin does not have an apostrophe mark. ( ' )

“Both Pella glooscapi and Euvira micmac were named in honor of the Native people here and their long traditions and knowledge of the natural world,” said Chris Majka from Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. “They have a tremendous familiarity with many of the animals and the plants that are found here and have a spiritual kinship with them, so it’s an opportunity to honor that long connection by christening a beetle after Glooscap.”

In 1865's “Kitchi-Gami: Life Among The Lake Superior Ojibway,” ethnographer Johann Georg Kohl noticed the Ojibway named everything in their world, even “the most useless things flitting about.” 

Sadly, those names have often been lost because of efforts to eradicate Native languages.

Glooscap was a creation figure of great size. The spiritual leader brought the Mi’kmaq knowledge of fire, tobacco and canoes, among other things.

Glooscap also formed the area's geographical features.  Nova Scotia was his bed, and Prince Edward Island was his pillow.

“Very close to where these beetles were found, there are five islands,” Majka said, “and there’s a story that there was a giant beaver that dammed a river and flooded an area. ... In irritation, Glooscap threw mud and stones at the beaver to chase him off and those mud and stones landed in the bay and made the islands.”

The British scientist J. B. S. Haldane once said that the Creator must have had “an inordinate fondness for beetles.”  Beetles are the most biodiverse group, and have more species, of any animal in the world.

 Maja estimates the numbers of species run in the millions. So far, 400,000 have been found.

 “They’re highly diverse and very resilient. They are arguably one of the most evolutionarily successful creatures of all time.  And we are the richer for that,” he said.

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