There are only a few months to go before the premiere of Game of Thrones’ final season. And as a fitting and timely tribute, Bret Ratcliffe, an entomologist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, named three newly discovered scarab species of beetle after Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.
The beetles are called drogoni, rhaegali, and viserioni, which are the Latinized names of the dragons.
While the entomologist is clearly a fan of the show, there are deeper reasons behind the delightful naming.
In an interview, Ratcliffe explains that part of his motives was to draw public attention to biodiversity. Speaking about his love for his work, he points out, “We’re still discovering life on Earth. One of every four living things on Earth is a beetle. We haven’t discovered them all.”
Those numbers don’t lie. Over the course of his work, Ratcliffe has named over 50 species — and he’s still far from done.
The naming rules compel scientists to refrain from using humor or insults, and the common practice is for animals to be named after a particular characteristic.
For instance, Ratcliffe has previously coined the term Strategus longichomperus after a beetle with long pincers. And while the GoT-inspired beetles may not posses reptilian scales and leathery wings, they do have orange features, which could suggest the imagery of dragonfire. Drogoni and Rhaegali are native to Colombia and Ecuador, while Viserioni hails from French Guiana.
Fans of the show will delight in the reference for years to come, as viewers have seen the growth of Dany’s dragons throughout the series’ past seasons. The fire-breathing beasts are integral in shaping not only Daenerys’ character, but that of the show as a whole, and hence are often referenced in pop culture. During Easter, it’s not unheard of for Game of Thrones fans to paint dragon eggs. But it’s also interesting to note that dragons have always been a part of pop culture; from their birth as mythical creatures from ancient folklore all the way to being wonderful fantasy CGI creations.
These fictional beasts have reached a point where they are recognized everywhere, and thus are counted on to bring excitement. Slovenia’s folklore includes plenty of dragon references, which is why tourists can see a giant dragon statue in the country’s capital city of Ljubljana. Meanwhile, the Asian online game platform Expat Bets also features them in several of its titles, including Dragon Shrine, Dragon Dance, and Emperor of the Sea. Though each game has very different dragons, the creature as whole, has long been associated with the continent. Additionally, the How to Train Your Dragon franchise places dragons at the of its overarching narrative. They may not look as menacing as the Targaryen beasts, but are still admired by audiences.
As for Danerys’ dragons, they are set to play much larger roles in the final season. Nerdcore Movement previously noted that one of the biggest highlights will be the epic final battle between Daenerys’ joint forces and the Army of the Dead. Daenerys is down to two dragons, since Viserion died and has been claimed by the Night King in the previous season. It’s likely that the two beasts will have to defend against their former kin, and that’s bound to be a visual treat for fans and casual viewers alike.
And as for Ratcliffe’s dragon-inspired beetles, none of them are dying and fighting the others as their resurrected zombie selves — so we can all expect them to lead long and happy lives in the GoT spotlight.