Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New insect order found

18.04.2002


Two cricket-like creatures establish new insect group.


Probably the remnants of what was once a larger and more widespread group.
© Science


Long lost relative of the stick insect.
© Science



The first new order of insects to be discovered for more than 80 years has emerged from the mountains of Namibia. The order’s first official members are two creatures about 2 cm long that look a bit like a cross between a cricket and a stick insect1.

The group, called Mantophasmatodea, joins the other 30 or so insect orders such as beetles, flies and termites. "If it was in mammals it’d be like discovering bats," says Dick Vane-Wright, head of entomology at London’s Natural History Museum.


Klaus Klass, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and his colleagues unearthed specimens languishing unidentified in museums, found fossils preserved in amber, and discovered living insects on a trip to Namibia. Now the team has published a description of two species. Three or four more await description, says Klass.

The living Mantophasmatodea dwell in grass on a mountaintop. They seem to be predators - their stomachs contained remains of other insects.

The fossil Mantophasmatodea are 40-50 million years old, some come from Europe. This implies that the African insects are the remnants of what was once a larger and more widespread group.

Vane-Wright compares the insects to the Coelacanth, the ’living fossil’ fish recently rediscovered in the Indian Ocean. "Mantophasmatodea might be a major group on the verge of extinction, or it might just have been overlooked," he says.

An order is one of the higher categories used to group species - we of the species homo sapiens belong to the order primates, for example. Biologists define such categories by identifying sets of characteristics shared by a group of species but not found in any other group.

Group dynamics

The Mantophasmatodea’s relation to other insects is uncertain. Klass and his colleagues suspect that they are closest to the stick insects and a small group called the Grylloblattodea, found on mountaintops in North America and Asia. Grylloblattodea was the last new order discovered, in 1914.

Sequencing the insects’ DNA might clarify their place in the tree of life. Evolutionary biologist Michael Whiting, of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, is doing this at the moment. But we shouldn’t expect cut-and-dried answers, he says.

"We’ve known about the other orders for centuries, and we still haven’t worked out their relationships," Whiting says. "This is one more piece of a large and complex puzzle: it’s exciting to have the piece, but it’s not going to provide the answer by itself."

References

  1. Klass, K.-D., Zompro, O., Kristensen, N.P. & Adis, J. Mantophasmatodea: a new insect order with extant members in the Afrotropics. Science Published online(2002).


JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Varied Menu
25.03.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Key evidence associating hydrophobicity with effective acid catalysis
25.03.2019 | Tokyo Metropolitan 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: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Laser processing is a matter for the head – LZH at the Hannover Messe 2019

25.03.2019 | Trade Fair News

A Varied Menu

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

‘Time Machine’ heralds new era

25.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>