sábado, 1 de junio de 2013

Extremely Tiny Species of Fairyfly Found in Costa Rica, Named after Dog in Peter Pan

ORIGINAL: Sci News
by Natali Anderson
May 21, 2013

Entomologists Dr John Huber from the Canadian National Collection of Insects and Dr John Noyes from the Natural History Museum, UK, have described a new genus and species of fairyfly from Costa Rica.
Tinkerbella nana is 2.5 times the width of a human hair. Scale line – 100 μm (Jennifer Read / Natural Resources Canada)
The minute insect, named Tinkerbella nana, is 250 micrometers long – that’s 2.5 times the width of a human hair.

Entomologists discovered Tinkerbella nana in the tropical forests of Costa Rica. They used methods adapted for catching extra tiny creatures, which included gently dragging a sweep net fitted with a 4 mm screen through the vegetation and then carefully searching the collected debris and extracting specimens by hand.

What surprised me the most was that I found so many of them,” Dr Noyes explained.

Can you imagine finding something less than 0.2mm in a 250 ml soup of material that includes lots of plant debris and other insects up to 8 mm long. It is possibly equivalent to finding a solitary needle in 200 haystacks.

Tinkerbella nana, described in a paper published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, is one of the smallest known arthropods. It belongs to the family Mymaridae that includes Kikiki huna, the smallest winged insect at 158 micrometers long.
Micrograph of Tinkerbella nana magnifies the delicate fairyfly structure. Scale line – 100 μm (Jennifer Read / Natural Resources Canada)


Tinkerbella seemed a very appropriate generic name for this particular insect. It is surprising that it has not been used before. The species name is a play on nanos, Greek for dwarf, and Nana – the name of the dog in Peter Pan.

This discovery really shows how diverse insect life is on this planet and how much there is to discover, especially in the tropics,” Dr Noyes said.

The discovery raises many questions about how something so small can exist in a habitat such as a tropical forest.

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Bibliographic information: John T. Huber, John S. Noyes. 2013. A new genus and species of fairyfly, Tinkerbella nana (Hymenoptera, Mymaridae), with comments on its sister genus Kikiki , and discussion on small size limits in arthropods. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 32: 17–44; doi: 10.3897/JHR.32.4663

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