Amateur photographer helps discover new insect species on Flickr
Meet Semachrysa jade, a newly discovered insect species living in the jungles of Malaysia.
Amateur photographer Hock Ping Guek (known as Kurt Orionmystery G on Flickr), took this close-up photo of a lacewing in a park in Kuala Lumpar. He posted the photo on his account unaware that the insect was anything special.
However, as luck would have it, Dr. Shaun Winterton, a senior entomologist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, happened upon the photo in May 2011 while randomly browsing insect pictures. The scientist immediately realized the bug was a new species, after neither he nor his colleagues were unable to identify it.
Guek describes what happened next on his blog:
“I first saw and photographed this species in the wild in its natural habitat on May 10, 2011. A few lacewing experts informed me that this could be a new species. Luckily, I came across this beautiful species again on Jan 27, 2012. Specimen was captured and sent to Mr. Winterton.”
Winterton sent the specimen to Steve Brooks, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum in London, where it was doubly confirmed to be a new find. Winterton dubbed the new discovery Semachrysa jade after his daughter.
Winterton, Brooks, and Guek are all listed as coauthors on a scientific article about the find that ran in ZooKeys in July. The find is described as an especially unusual one—“the confluence of citizen scientist, online image database and cybertaxonomy.”
Perhaps the next time scientists are looking for new life, they might want to first check their social media accounts.
Photos via Hock Ping Guek
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