Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flying grasshopper discovered by student

14.03.2008
A PhD student with a talent for discovering new species of insects has stumbled across an entirely new genus and species of flying grasshopper after examining fossils labelled ‘stick insects’.

Sam Heads, a research student at the University of Portsmouth, was sent specimens thought to be stick insects from two German museums but he knew instantly he was looking at an ancient relative of the modern grasshopper which lived 115 million years ago.

It is not the first time Sam has identified a new species of insect and he said: “I've lost count of the number of times I've identified new species. Every time I open a museum drawer I find something new.”

The flying grasshopper belonged to a family called Proscopiidae and its role was to act like a stick, hence a possible reason for confusion over what the insects were.

... more about:
»insect »proscopiid »species

The newly-discovered insect was about five centimetres long. It is now extinct but it belonged to a family which survives and whose common names include jumping sticks, stick grasshoppers and horse-head grasshoppers.

Sam has named the new insect Eoproscopia martilli, after his university mentor Dr Dave Martill who teaches in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. One of his earlier discoveries, of a cicada, was named after another tutor Bob Loveridge.

Sam said: “Discovery is by far one of the most satisfying aspects of doing science. It is very exciting. I realised immediately that they were the first-ever fossils of this fascinating family of grasshoppers and basically just sat staring at them down the microscope for the rest of the day.

“The findings extend the geological range of the Proscopiidae back almost 120 million years into the time of the dinosaurs and allow us to glimpse into the distant and otherwise unknown evolutionary past of the family.

“I have spent the last five years researching fossil insects and identifying specimens becomes second nature.”

Eoproscopia martilli was primitive with a short head and well developed wings. Their descendants have elongated heads and have either lost their wings or seen them evolve into mere stumps or tiny winglets.

Sam said: “Proscopiids are stick mimics and it’s likely that becoming a better stick requires significant reduction of the wings. Once the wings become too small for flight, they could easily be lost through natural selection.”

To avoid predators the young grasshoppers sway back and forth or walk in a spasmodic fashion to try and mimic a stick blowing in the wind.

This family of grasshopper is common in Central and South America and unlike its closest British relative which can be heard singing through the summer, they have no ears and do not sing.

Sam said this latest find is significant because it provides a window into the evolutionary history of the proscopiid grasshoppers.

“These insects are strange and their relationships with other grasshopper groups are obscure. Eoproscopia martilli not only presents us with information about ancient proscopiids, but also provides some insight into the possible evolutionary relationships of these early grasshoppers.

“As is always the case with scientific discoveries this find has raised more questions than it has answered. In the early Cretaceous period when South America was attached to Africa this grasshopper could easily have moved between what are now two continents yet no proscopiids live in Africa today and we don’t know why.”

Kate Daniell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.port.ac.uk

Further reports about: insect proscopiid species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>