A New Species Discovered … On Flickr
Over a year ago, entomologist Shaun Winterton spotted a previously unknown species of a lacewing insect as he was browsing Flickr. He really didn’t know what it was at the time, but he knew he’s neever seen anything like it. He contacted the photgrapher, Guek Hock Ping, who shot the picture in Malaysia. No, he didn’t have a specimen, just a picture.
A full year later, Winterton received an email from the photographer; Guek had returned to the region of the original sighting and found another lacewing with the same wing pattern.
“He told me, ‘I’ve got one in a container on my kitchen table — what should I do with it?’ ” Winterton says.
The specimen was sent to Steve Brooks, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Brooks confirmed that the lacewing was new to science. He also found a matching specimen that had been sitting in the museum’s collection, unclassified, for decades.
The new species was dubbed Semachrysa jade — not after its pale green color, but after Winterton’s daughter. It was introduced to the world in the latest issue of ZooKeys, a scientific journal focused on biodiversity. In keeping with the digital nature of their discovery, Winterton, Guek and Brooks wrote the paper from three different continents using a Google document.
(Image credit: Kurt/Orion Mystery)