December 8, 2010

Rare Spider-Like Fly Species Rediscovered In Kenya

One of the world's rarest and most unique looking flies, the "terrible harry fly," has been rediscovered in Kenya for the first time since 1948, researchers announced on Wednesday.

According to the AFP, Dr. Robert Copeland and Dr. Ashley Kirk-Spriggs of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) "found the fly, known as Mormotomyia Hirsuta, in its only known habitat, a cave-like rock cleft in Ukazi Hill east of Nairobi."

It marked just the third time the species had been collected. Originally, it was discovered in 1933, before being found a second time some 15 years later. In a statement, the ICIPE researchers said that "the re-discovery of the species"¦ has caused excitement in insect museums world-wide."

The Mormotomyia Hirsuta reportedly looks more like a spider than a regular fly. The creature is approximately one-centimeter long, has wings but is unable to fly, and tends to breed in bat feces. Furthermore, the creature had minute eyes, and is the only identified member of its biological family, according to Reuters.

"Since Mormotomyia cannot fly, there is a strong possibility that it is really restricted to this tiny habitat," Copeland told AFP. "If that is the case, it would be wonderful if the entire Ukazi Hill, on which it is found, were declared a national heritage area and given suitable conservation protection."

"We have collected fresh specimens for molecular analysis to see where exactly the 'terrible hairy fly' fits into the evolutionary process," he added in a telephone interview with Reuters. "The fly has no obvious adaptations for clinging onto other animals for transfer from one place to another. With its long legs, it could perhaps wrap itself around a bat and get a ride"¦ but it's never been found elsewhere."


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