Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Species Discovered

Not all reported news is bad news... 
With so many news reports, placing a focus on negative events such as horrific accidents, riots and acts of war it is easy to get despondent and miss the good news stories. However, wondrous events are happening around us all the time. National Science Week, this week, gives us a great excuse to focus on the discovery of new species.

River shark and blue goanna among 1000 new species discovered in New Guinea
Monitor lizard (Varanus macraei), Papua New Guinea. Found on the tiny islands off the Vogelkop (Bird’s Head) Peninsula of Papua in Indonesia and capable of reaching a metre in length.  WWF/Lutz Obelgonner.  Read the full article at "The Conversation".

Internationally there have been news reports of fanged frogs being discovered in Sulawesi, lizards of the genus 'Cnemaspis' in South-East Asia, two species of spider in Melghat Reserve, India, and a multitude of other creatures, including a lurid blue monitor lizard, in New Guinea. Closer to home a burrowing frog that survives in the arid Pilbara landscape (Uperoleia saxatilis) was reported last month and West Australian Museum scientists have discovered a new species of solitary 'megamouth' bee in the Jandakot Regional Park (Perth). In fact, according to the Australian Museum website, there have been 46 newly described species in Australia so far during 2011.

What does all this mean?  
Great news!  It means that there is still an extraordinary quantity of wildlife right under our noses, which is new, stimulating and worth exploring. As Museum CEO, Alec Coles explains:
“This is another example of the extraordinary wildlife in Western Australia and indeed Perth, which has long been recognised as one of the world’s most biodiverse cities”
Having learnt about the existence of the megamouth bee I was inspired to contact Dr Terry Houston, Senior Curator (Entomology) at the Western Australian Museum and have since been informed there are “several species of insect awaiting naming” - including mole crickets and “a tiny parasitic wasp … associated with a tiny colonial native bee” - living right HERE in my city.  Because of this, we each need to learn as much as possible about the creatures in our own part of the world and do what we can to keep as much of our environment in its native state as possible.

Megamouth Bee - Photo: Terry Houston, Copyright Western Australian Museum

All these new discoveries are very exciting news for me.   When I go hiking in my local area I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the megamouth bee, and hope to experience other new creatures.

Turn your focus to the Good News Stories and see how wonderful life is on this remarkable planet. Have you come across an amazing creature in your own part of the world? Let me know.

Link to downloadable activities for children:

Links to further reading:

Footnote: I wish to acknowledge Dr Terry Houston, Senior Curator (Entomology), Western Australian Museum for his support with this entry.

Post last updated: 22 September 2011

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