Newly discovered species of cockroach named after Alolan Ultra Beast Pherosma

Posted at: 12:15am on 9th March 2023

Entomologists in Singapore have discovered a new species of cockroach, the first of its kind to be found in Singapore, and named it after the 7th Generation Pokémon and Ultra Beast, Pherosma, due to their physical similarities.

Foo Maosheng, the co-author of the paper describing the new species, said in an interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times, “There are some similarities between Pheromosa and the delicate cockroach that we found, such as having a long antenna, wings that mimic a hood and long slender legs.

“Both my collaborator and I are Pokemon fans, so we thought, why not name it after a Pokemon inspired by a cockroach.”

The new species, Nocticola pherosma, to give it it’s full name, was discovered by comparing differences between the male genitalia of specimens with its closest relative from Borneo, Nocticola adebratti. The original mystery specimens were collected between 2016 and 2017 – coincidentally the years during which the Alola-Region Pokémon games featuring Pherosma were released – during insect surveys in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

“There were no formal records of the cockroach in Singapore,” said Mr Foo. “Since its DNA did not match any species recorded online, it does add to the suggestion that this species had not been formally documented.”

Singapore Natural History Museum / Biodiversity Online, Lucañas & Foo, 2023

Eventually, with help from the study’s lead author, Cristian C. Lucanas, an entomologist from the UPLB Museum of Natural History in the Philippines, the specimens were established as a new species, joining 32 others in the Nocticolidae genus found in areas throughout Africa, India, Asia and Australia.

Much like Satoshi Tajiri, whose own fascination with bug collecting earned him the childhood moniker of ‘Dr Bug’ and ultimately led to the creation of Pokémon, Foo’s love for insects and Pokémon has earned him the nickname of ‘Bug Catcher’ among students and peers, referencing the Bug-type Trainers commonly found in the main series games.

He said: “I’m like one of those bug-type trainers as I go to different places to find out more about what insects we have.

“This contributes to the museum for research and education and The Biodiversity of Singapore website, which is kind of like our local Pokedex.”

Nocticola Pherosma is the latest in a string of real-life animals named after Pokémon, including three beetle species named after Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres because of their Legendary-like rarity, a Chilean species of bee named after Charizard and even newly-discovered Dinosaur species named after Aerodactyl and Bulbasaur. Meanwhile, there are even special proteins named after both Pikachu and Pokémon itself.

Looking for more info on Pokémon Sun & Moon?