May 23, 2009

ASU new species list has longest insect

A Malaysian insect, at 22 inches the longest insect in the world, is among the top 10 species found in 2008, Arizona State University says.

The college's International Institute for Species Exploration said the large insect was picked by an international committee of scientists to make the annual list, along with the world's smallest snake, The Arizona Republic said Saturday.

The snake, found in Barbados, is only the size of a quarter, but it is not the smallest species to make the university's list.

Also featured on the list is a bacterium known to thrive in hair spray. Quentin Wheeler, director of the ASU institute, said the identification of the microscopic species discovered by Japanese scientists will undoubtedly make an impression on the general public.

People will probably never look at hair spray the same way again, he told the Republic.

Wheeler admitted earning a spot on the species list, which also featured a miniature seahorse and a caffeine-free coffee plant this year, typically involves traits like uniqueness as unusual winners draw the public's attention.

We're trying to get attention for this neglected area of science, he said.