New water beetle species named for Leonardo DiCaprio

Some people have lakes named in their honour.

Others have mountain peaks. A few even claim bragging rights to stars.

But now one Hollywood star can lay claim to a very unusual namesake.

Leonardo DiCaprio, meet Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi.

It’s a water beetle discovered at a waterfall in Malaysian Borneo.

The actor and environmental activist is inspiration for the latest find of Taxon Expeditions, a group that takes citizen scientists on treks with an eye to discovering new species.

“The new species is named in honour of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio to acknowledge his inspiring work in promoting environmental awareness and bringing the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss into the spotlight,” the authors write in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The Wolf of Wall Street and Titanic star seems pretty thrilled.

Today, he changed his Facebook profile picture from this:

To this, which is arguably less handsome.

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was founded 20 years ago to help threatened ecosystems.

And two years ago, DiCaprio was given an award for his efforts from the UN. That was the same year he finally won an Oscar for his role in The Revenant.

And now, he can add an insect to his trophy case.

The beetle was among three species found in the remote Maliau Basin, Malaysian Borneo, during last year’s field trip initiated by Taxon Expeditions, which really wants ecotourists to find their inner Darwin.

The other beetles are named Grouvellinus andrekuipersi, after Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, and Grouvellinus quest.

Giluk Falls where the new water beetle Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi was discovered. Photo: Hendrik Freitag

It’s a pretty cool tourism concept.

“Citizen science initiatives in biodiversity research have become increasingly popular with an estimated annual growth rate of 10% in number of projects launched,” the research paper notes. “They generate important scientific information, especially in terms of biodiversity monitoring, planning and management of ecosystems and protected areas, species distribution, and conservation.”


Iva Njunjić, co-founder and co-director of Taxon Expeditions, says the group arranges scientific surveys to help bridge the gap in biodiversity knowledge.

It was participants and staff of the Maliau Basin Studies Centre who voted to name one of them after DiCaprio for his efforts to “protect untouched, unexplored wildernesses just like Maliau Basin itself.”

Folks there are also pretty wowed with the famous response.

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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