Newly discovered beetle named after Ateneo’s Fr. Jett Villarin

November 11, 2021
Two new species of small, dark, and hairy beetles – including the Fr Jett beetle – were discovered on the island of Negros in Western Visayas by Emmanuel D. Delocado and Hendrik Freitag from the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory of the Department of Biology. This very recent discovery was published in the international scientific journal ZooKeys in an article entitled “Two new species of Byrrhinus Motschulsky, 1858 (Coleoptera, Limnichidae, Limnichinae) from Negros, Philippines” [ZooKeys 1070: 51–72 (2021)].
The newly discovered beetles, Byrrhinus negrosensis (left) and Byrrhinus villarini (right)
One of the two new species, Byrrhinus villarini, was named after Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J., the immediate past University President and current Executive Director of the Manila Observatory. Delocado and  Freitag decided to name the new species after Fr. Villarin in recognition of his strong push for the environmental research agenda in the University during his nine-year tenure. Fr Villarin is also a researcher in the field of environment and sustainability. He was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its evaluation of the status and recommendations on circumventing the global climate crisis. The other species, Byrrhinus negrosensis, was named after the island of Negros from which both species were collected.
The discovery was remarkable because the two species were the first additional new species of Philippine Byrrhinus in the last 28 years. From five known species present in the country, there are now seven Byrrhinus species. Four of which, including B. villarini and B. negrosensis, are found only in the Philippines. In addition, this discovery comes at a time of heightened anthropogenic activities in the island of Negros, especially in the protected areas. Thus, findings like this provide an additional reason to push for the continued protection of such pristine localities despite the strong movement to privatize and commercialize these areas. 
The expedition to the island of Negros was part of the “Freshwater biodiversity surveys” project funded by the School of Science and Engineering Indus­try 4.0 Research Fund (SI4-013) of Ateneo Research Institute of Science and Engineering (ARISE) and the Biodiversity Teaching in a Philippine-Cambodian-German Network (BIO-PHIL) project.
The discovery was made in the scope of the Ph.D. dissertation of Delocado, which he successfully defended on 9 November 2021. Freitag served as his adviser. Currently, there are only four laboratories worldwide, including the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory, studying taxonomy and systematics of the beetle family Limnichidae (minute marsh-loving beetles) to which Byrrhinus belongs.