Science

Flickr, The Photo Site Where Entomologists Stumble Across New Insect Species

It’s not every day a new species of insect is discovered. Even rarer is such a discovery occurring online while idly browsing a photo-sharing site. Against the odds, in May 2011 last year, entomologist Shaun Winterton spotted an unfamiliar insect on Flickr. In order to confirm the find, he’d need to enlist the help of the photographer, Guek Hock Ping, to capture a specimen for study.

As NPR writes, it would be an entire year before Guek would return to Malaysia, where he initially found the insect — an undiscovered sibling of the green lacewing. What separated it from a normal lacewing was a distinct pattern of blue and black on its wings, which can be seen in the photo above.

Guek managed to catch one and send it off to be studied at London’s Natural History Museum, where it was confirmed by entomologist Stephen Brooks to be a new, uncatalogued species. It was dubbed Semachrysa jade, after Winterton’s daughter.

Adding an extra level of geekiness to the proceedings, the official paper on the find, published last week, was co-authored using Google Docs by Winterton, Guek and Brooks.

More photos of the insect can be found on Guek’s Flickr stream.

[NPR]

Image: Guek Hock Ping / ZooKeys, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0


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