A rare beetle, named after Adolf Hitler, is on the brink of extinction as it has become a sought-after collector’s item among neo-Nazis.
This tiny brown blind beetle, known as Anophthalmus hitleri, has garnered attention from right-wing extremists, fetching prices as high as £1,200 each.
The beetle was initially discovered in 1933 by German entomologist Oskar Scheibel, who was an admirer of Hitler. He named it “Anophthalmus hitleri,” with the first part derived from the Greek word for “without eye” and the second part paying homage to Hitler, who had recently become Chancellor.
However, in recent decades, the insect has become a desirable item among far-right groups.
With its population dwindling in the wild, concerns have arisen that this unique beetle could face complete extinction.
The rare beetle is exclusively found in approximately 15 caves in central Slovenia and is legally protected. Poaching is strictly prohibited, but its proximity to the Italian border makes it easily accessible to insect hunters, as insect hunting is permitted there.
The name of the beetle has sparked a debate among scientists. Some experts, concerned about its potential extinction, advocate for renaming the beetle to reduce demand for it. However, others argue that changing a species’ name could lead to confusion among researchers.
The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the organization responsible for approving species names, states that renaming would contradict its primary goal of maintaining stability in scientific research.
This call for renaming reflects a broader trend seen in the UK, where statues and places associated with controversial figures are being reconsidered for new names.