A Beautiful Fly Ignites a Bitter Feud Among Scientists

A Beautiful Fly Ignites a Bitter Feud Among Scientists

 

Stephen Marshall

For such a tiny fly, Marleyimyia xylocopae sure can cause a ruckus. It’s handsome, having apparently evolved to mimic the carpenter bee’s striking yellow-on-black coloration. It has big eyes, and a brilliant blue-green glow to its wings.

At least, so say the photos—the only evidence of its existence. In 2015, taxonomist Stephen Marshall was trying to collect a specimen of the beautiful fly in South Africa’s Ndumo game reserve. (He had it in a bottle, but fumbled as he was putting on the lid.) So on October 5, 2015, Marshall and another scientist, Neal Evenhuis, broke from scientific dogma and gave it a name using photographs alone. Read more.