Sunday, March 25, 2012

Monster Wasp Insect Found

Monster Wasp Insect Found

The fearsome monster wasp discovered in the jungles of Indonesia with jaws longer than its front legs

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares - a wasp that supplements a vicious sting with jaws longer than its front legs. But this is a very real newly discovered warrior wasp found on the remote Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Dubbed the 'Komodo dragon' of the wasp family, the males of the species measure two-and-a-half inches long.

Entomologist Lynn Kimsey of the University of California, Davis, encountered the wasps during a recent expedition to the island.

The UC Davis Department of Entomology said they picked the name warrior wasp because of its huge ninja-like mandibles.

Ms Kimsey, who is also director at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, said: 'Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male's front legs. I don't know how it can walk.'

Luckily the species prefers to dine on insects, but if threatened it could leave a sizeable mark on human flesh too.

Ms Kimsey plans to name it 'Garuda' after the part-human, part-eagle mythical beast that is well-known as a national symbol in Indonesia.

The wasp was discovered in the Mekongga Mountains in south-eastern Sulawesi, a little-explored Indonesian island between Borneo and New Guinea.

Ms Kimsey described it as one of the world's top three islands for biodiversity alongside Australia and Madagascar.

Aside from gigantic wasps the island is also home to dwarf buffalo called anoa and colonial spiders whose webs can stretch for acres.

Ms Kimsey and a team of researchers have received a five-year, £2.5 million grant to study the island's rich biodiversity.

More: Bee and Wasp Sting - What to do

So far in her three trips to Sulawesi, she estimates that hundreds - maybe even thousands - of new species could be catalogued.

She hopes that the discovery of the warrior wasp and other surprising new creatures will help raise awareness about just how unique and precious the region is.

'There's talk of forming a biosphere reserve to preserve this,' she said. 'There are so many rare and endangered species on Sulawesi that the world may never see.'


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