(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have discovered a completely new species of bees, which, oddly enough, have a dog-like snout. A new native bee species has been discovered by researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.
The author of the study is Dr. Keith Prendergast of the Curtin School of Molecular and Biological Sciences.
The new species was named after the explorer’s pet dog Zephyr, after she noticed the dog-like protruding snout of the insect and noted the emotional support the dog gave her during her research.
The new kind
In addition to adding to existing knowledge of our biodiversity, a rare and wonderful bee named Leioproctus zephyr will be protected by conservation measures.
“I was immediately intrigued by the very unusual appearance of this bee when I first saw specimens collected during my doctoral research in southwest Washington State at the hotspot,” says Dr. Prendergast.
When researchers tried to identify it, she found that it did not match any of the previously recorded species.
Dr. Prendergast explained that she was confident that if it were a known species, it would be easy to identify given its unusual appearance.
How to define a new species?
Species identification is not an easy task. In fact, as Dr. Prendergast explained, researchers can only identify a particular species after they analyze it under a microscope.
Careful work then needs to be done to compare the characteristics with other identified species. After that, you study museum specimens and collections.
Dr. Prendergast was browsing the WA Museum’s entomological collection and came across specimens of Leioproctus zephyrus. They were collected as early as 1979 but have never been scientifically described.
She said she was thrilled to play her part in naming the species and making it better known. There are so many insects in the world, but so few of them have scientific names or descriptions, Dr. Prendergast explained.
DNA barcoding confirmed that Dr. Prendergast’s new species is very similar to other unidentified Lieoproctus species.
Very rare species
So far, only one collection of Leioproctus zephyr has been collected from its original locality in southwestern Western Australia.
Their distribution is extremely limited, they are found only in seven places in the southwest of the region.
In home gardens, they are completely absent, and only in the five urban remains of shrubs, where they feed on Jacksonia plants, are they present. In addition to being fussy, they have a clypeus that looks like a stigma.
So I named them Zephyr after my dog. During the difficult period of my PhD and beyond, she has been an extremely helpful support system for my mental health and well-being, Dr. Prendergast explained.
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