AboutZoos, Since 2008


Dis­cov­ery of new species ini­ti­ated by pic­tures posted on Flickr®

pub­lished 10 August 2012 | mod­i­fied 15 August 2012

An unusual new species of green lacewing (Semachrysa jade) has been dis­cov­ered after its pic­tures ini­tially were posted on Flickr® by Guek Hock Ping a photographer/​layman sci­en­tist. When Shaun Win­ter­ton, a researcher with the Cal­i­for­nia State Col­lec­tion of Arthro­pods at the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Food & Agri­cul­ture, ran­domly exam­ined Flickr® pic­tures he deter­mined that this par­tic­u­lar species was in fact new.

Green lacewings are del­i­cate green insects with large, lace-​like wings that live in a wide vari­ety of habi­tats, espe­cially trop­i­cal forests. Adults mostly feed on flow­ers, but the lar­vae are fero­cious preda­tors of other insects, fre­quently car­ry­ing the dead car­casses of their prey on their backs after killing them using their enor­mous, suck­ing tube-​like jaws.

LacewingIn this study, a beau­ti­ful new species of green lacewing in the genus Semachrysa is described from the Malaysian rain­for­est, Selan­gor. The wing pat­tern is its most dis­tinc­tive fea­ture. Yet, this dis­cov­ery could have been missed by sci­en­tists, as the only doc­u­mented evi­dence that the new species existed was an exquis­ite series of images posted online in Flickr® after the insect was released.

Only after sci­en­tists came across the images online by chance, efforts were made to cap­ture more spec­i­mens so that this species could be for­mally described as new to sci­ence. With­out an actual spec­i­men to place in a museum as a ref­er­ence, a for­mal descrip­tion is not pos­si­ble. One year later another, indi­vid­ual was col­lected at the same local­ity and the sci­en­tists and pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher joined forces to col­lab­o­rate on the descrip­tion of this new species, which was pub­lished in the open access jour­nal ZooKeys.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Pen­soft. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: Pen­soft News, 09.08.2012)

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