Back in 2002, German biologist Oliver Zompro discovered the first entirely new order of insects in nearly 200 years. He searched dusty museums and remote mountains… but he could have found them in the bathroom of a South African truck stop.
The insects in question form the order Mantophasmatodea, and they represent arguably the biggest biological find in more than a century. And yet this isn’t a story about impossibly exotic creatures found in the furthest reaches of the unexplored world – instead, it’s about noticing the subtle differences in the animals that are all around us. As it turns out, the previously unknown order Mantophasmatodea was also one of the common pests found all over Cape Town, South Africa.
Over at Scientific American, Rob Dunn offers a fascinating account of the extraordinary lengths Zompro went to confirm his finding, as well as just how unnecessary all those steps actually were. If ever there was a good reason to stare longingly at insects, then this story provides it. Check out the full story here.