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Sparklewing: Damselfly with a Daring Name

ESF Top 10 New Species of 2016

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  • Umma gumma: male
    Photo credit: Jens Kipping

  • Umma gumma: mating
    Photo credit: Jens Kipping

  • Umma gumma: habitat, sandy forest stream in southeastern Gabon
    Photo credit: Jens Kipping

About the Sparklewing

Name: Umma Gumma

How it made the Top 10: This new damselfly is just one of a staggering number of newly discovered dragonflies and damselflies from Africa. Sixty new species were reported in a single publication this year, the most for any single paper in more than a century and a surprising leap forward in knowledge for one of the better-known insect orders. Most of the new species are colorful and so distinct they are identifiable from photographs alone, emphasizing that not all unknown species are small, indistinct or cryptic in appearance or habits. Given that the genus name is Umma, it was quick work to give this lovely and delicate damselfly a name that might be familiar to rock-and-roll fans: the band Pink Floyd named its 1969 double album Ummagumma (which has yet another meaning as a British slang term for sex).

Location: Gabon

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Odonata

Family: Calopterygidae

Size: 55 mm (about 2 inches)

Etymology: Name refers to the 1969 Pink Floyd album Ummagumma, a word said to be Cambridge slang for making love.

Type locality: Africa, Gabon, Haut-Ogooue Province, Moyal

Holotype: Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

More information: Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra, Jens Kipping, and Nicolas Mézière. 2015. Sixty new dragonfly and damselfly species from Africa (Odonata). Odonatologica 44: 447-678

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