If science was once impervious to culture, those days are surely long gone.
Also no longer with us: the concept of binary sex.
Just a few years ago, the term “gender” began substituting for “sex” in common usage; from there, the word took on meaning as a form of identity.
At the time, we were told gender was a social construct.
The latest instruction, however, confirms the polar opposite: It’s inborn.
Moreover, gender doesn’t any longer describe traditional sex; and beyond distinctions such as “co,” “en” “xie” “yo,” and “ze,” now upon us is the era of “noun-self pronouns.”
Further goes the world from a breakdown of merely “boys” and “girls.”
From my coverage last month:
[Noun-self prounouns] can reference animals or “fantasy characters.”
For instance, you’re welcome to shove-off “she” and become “bun/bunself.”
For you lads who lick your liquids and leak in a litter box, give “he” the heave-ho and purr to the possibilities of “kitten/kittenself.”
If the increasing complexity bugs you, you’ll be glad to know insects recently got a break.
As reported by New Scientist, a species of ant has been given a non-binary scientific name.
But, a Yale University research kept it simple: He just went with “they.”
How it happened: Taxonomic expert Douglas Booher had a suggestion for Technical University’s Philipp Hoenle.
Hailing from Germany, Philipp discovered a new and unnamed ant.
As it turns out, Douglas had wanted to honor artist Jeremy Ayers, who passed away in 2016.
Here’s a bio from the website of Georgia’s Athens-Clark County:
Jeremy…was an inspirational participant in the Athens art community for over four decades… As one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars under the pseudonym of Silva Thin, [he] was active in the Warhol Factory scene in the 1970s. After returning to his native town of Athens, where Ayers’ band Limbo District introduced an eccentric sound and vision, he traveled frequently between Athens and New York, particularly during the height of the OCCUPY movement which he documented with photography. Throughout his life, Ayers enveloped himself in art, embodying his artistic philosophy with words of kindness and encouragement.
Courtesy of the Daily Mail:
While he wasn’t non-binary, Ayers was a gay man and an activist for human rights, including marginalised communities and non-binary individuals.
Evidently, Philipp thought the time was right.
After all — per New Scientist — this was no ordinary ant:
According to Booher, there are 853 species in the Strumigenys genus, but the new ant was immediately identifiable as unique. “It’s very different from any ant in the genus,” he says. “There’s a lot of convergent evolution, so a lot of species in different countries look alike but aren’t related. So it was a special ant and I was waiting for something like this to represent gender diversity and biological diversity.”
“[Jeremy] identified as a gay man outside of his Warhol character,” Philipp noted, “but I’m naming it after him with the suffix added to include all non-binary people for his activism.”
As for the official paper on the cool critter, Philipp decided to seek assistance in writing the etymology portion.
Hence, he turned to the obvious source in such a case: R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe.
I love REM, Michael Stipe & photography, so this was the perfect article to read https://t.co/FSU7IBkXJE
— Clare Gibson (@CG_Creative) May 4, 2021
In the end, the paper read thusly:
[The new insect] is one of the most diverse ant genera in the world and arguably the most morphologically diverse, exhibiting an exceptional range of mandible shape and function.
So what’s the modern moniker? Well, in case you didn’t know, species designations are traditionally either masculine (using the suffix “-i”) or feminine (employing “ae”).
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newly-named Strumigenys ayersthey.
It’s a brand-new spankin’ ant.
Or is it an uncle?
Only their doctor knows for sure.
— Rowan Hooper ローワン フーパー (@rowhoop) May 9, 2021
As I said at the beginning, gone are the days of binary sex. It’s the end of the world as we knew it.
And I’m betting one scientific co-author feels fine.
From the paper’s Acknowledgements:
We thank musician and artist Michael Stipe for contributing to the etymology in honor of a hero to many and dear friend to those that knew him, Jeremy Ayers. We further thank the support from the LGBTQIA+ and gender dynamic community, for which we hope this species furthers pride. Additional thanks to Adrienne Truscott for input and suggestions.
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