February 16, 2012
Tiny Grasshopper-like Insect Found Roaming Around In Belize
Entomologists from the University of Illinois have discovered a new species of grasshopper-like insect in the tropical rainforests of Belize, apparently the first of its family to be found, naming it in commemoration of an ancient Mayan people who once lived in the region.
The tiny hopper, Ripipteryx mopana, was discovered in the Toledo District in Belize. It was named after a tribe of Mayans known as the Mopan people.
R. mopana measures less than 0.2 inches (5mm) long and is the “first representative of its family ever to be found in Belize,” study coauthor Dr. Sam Heads told LiveScience in a statement. “Given the amount of high-quality habitats in the region, it isn´t really surprising that new species still await discovery, especially in the less-explored areas.”
“Belize is famous for its biodiversity, although very little is known about the insect fauna of the southern part of the country. This is particularly true of the Orthoptera -- the grasshoppers, crickets and katydids,” he added.
The tiny black, white and orange bug uses its large jumping hind legs to escape predators, the researchers said.
“Very little is known about the biology of this genus and its closest relatives” said Heads. “The group as a whole is rather poorly studied and even though we continue to document new species, we still have a long way to go.”
The study, by Heads and coauthor Dr. Steve Taylor, is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Image Caption: This is the new insect, Ripipteryx mopana. Credit: Sam W. Heads, Steven J. Taylor
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