New species of animal named after internationally acclaimed writer Andrzej Stasiuk
A new species of animal has been named after one of Poland’s most internationally acclaimed writers.
Literature loving biology boffins from Łódź decided to name the crustacean Gammarus Stasiuki in honour of writer Andrzej Stasiuk after finding it in Poland's Lower Beskid mountain range, which is also the home of the award-winning writer.
Dr Tomasz Mamos, Prof. Michał Grabowski and Prof. Krzysztof Jażdżewski from the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology at Łódź University together with colleagues from Slovakia published their discovery recently in the journal Scientific Reports.
Reaching out in a letter to Stasiuk, the scientists wrote: “Having been faithful readers of your books and columns for years, sharing your view of the world and love for Eastern Europe whose life and landscapes you so vividly describe, we, three biologists […], would like your name to be commemorated not only in culture but also in the nature of this region.”
“The crustacean […] lives in the streams of the Eastern Carpathians in Poland, Ukraine, Romania and also in the Low Beskids, where you live.
“We discovered it, described it scientifically in the attached publication, illustrated it and gave it the name Gammarus Stasiuki.”
Stasiuk’s wife, Monika Sznajderman, welcomed the news on social media, saying: "Such a beautiful, such a truly joyful end-of-year thing has happened.
“It's touching and amazing to still be so close to discovering unknown existences. The alliance between science and culture is also beautiful.”
The tiny crustacean lives by crushing and processing fallen leaves from trees, which enables the matter contained in them to recharge the circle of life.
The discovery of the new species, described as a “glacial survivalist”, was made when the team was carrying out research in the Carpathians, “one of the key biodiversity hotspots in Europe” into the gammarus balcanicus species.
The team established that the emergence of gammarus stasiuki dates back to the Late Miocene/Early Pliocene, about 5 million years ago.
Its distribution is limited to several locations in the Eastern Carpathians. In addition to a few locations in Poland the species was found in northern Romania.
Andrzej Stasiuk is one of the most successful and internationally acclaimed contemporary Polish authors, best known for his travel literature and essays that describe Eastern Europe and its relationship with the West.
He has strong links to the Lower Beskid region. After deserting the army and spending a year and a half in prison, he moved there in 1986 to look after a friend’s sheep, llamas and donkeys.
He settled in the tiny village of Czarne near the Slovak border, where he founded a hippie-Buddhist commune, after which he left for the USA for 9 years.
Stasiuk is known for his impressionistic style and atmospheric descriptions of provincial south-east Poland and Eastern Europe.
He is the author of over 15 books of fiction, essays, and travel writing, including, Fado, Nine, Tales of Galicia, The White Raven, On the Road to Babadag and Dukla.
Irvine Welsh in the New York Times described him as “an accomplished stylist with an eye for the telling detail that brings characters and situations to life”.