Scientist Names Wasp After Tuuka Rask

Tuuka Rask

A researcher from Greater Boston discovered a new wasp species in Kenya. He stuck to his roots and named it Thaumatodryinus tuukkaraski after the Boston Bruins goaltender, Tuuka Rask.

Robert Copeland, who works at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, moved to Nairobu 25 years ago. He grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and is still a huge fan of his hometown teams. The name will be officially announced in the journal Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae.

“This species is named after the acrobatic goaltender for the Finnish National ice hockey team and the Boston Bruins, whose glove hand is as tenacious as the raptorial fore tarsus of this dryinid species,” wrote the authors.

Copeland said Rask is a player who has “had an outstanding career in one of the most difficult positions in sports.” Rask won the 2014 Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the league. He was honored when he heard the news.

“That’s funny. That’s pretty neat,” exclaimed Rask.

The Boston Globe described the new species of wasp and how scientists choose names:

T. tuukkaraski is an “ectoparasitoid,” a type of wasp that feeds off other insects. The female lays eggs on the larvae of the host bug species. When those eggs hatch, the wasp larvae cuts into the host and feeds off of it.

There is science and art in naming new species. For many scientists, it is a way to honor friends, colleagues, or historical figures, as well as to have a little fun.