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A bit of good luck: A new species of burying beetle from the Solomon Islands Archipelago

Date:
June 21, 2013
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
Scientists discovered a new species of burying beetle from the Solomon Islands Archipelago. Nicrophorus efferens was discovered when one of the authors, Tonya Mousseau, decided to look through the local museum collections during a holiday in Hawaii. The lucky find is a type of burying beetle, a group of beetles famous among naturalists for their peculiar reproductive habits.
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This image shows the new species, Nicrophorus efferens.
Credit: Derek Sikes; CC-BY 3.0

Scientists discovered a new species of burying beetle, Nicrophorus efferens. Burying beetles are well known to most naturalists because of their large size, striking black and red colors, and interesting reproductive behaviors -- they bury small vertebrate carcasses which their offspring eat in an underground crypt, guarded by both parents.

The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

This new species, known from only 6 specimens collected in 1968, sat unrecognized as an undescribed species for over 40 years. "It was a bit of good luck that led to our realization these specimens belonged to an undescribed species. My student, Tonya, was visiting Hawaii for some R&R and decided to look over the burying beetles held by the Bishop Museum. Her PhD research was focused on the biogeography and evolution of a subgroup of these beetles and she identified these six specimens as very interesting and possibly new. The discovery of new species in old collections is a common occurrence and one of the many reasons why museums like the Bishop play a vital role in helping us understand life on this planet.," commented Dr. Sikes, University of Alaska Museum.

The second author, Tonya Mousseau, added, "Without my background and training in the taxonomy of beetles, particularly the burying beetles, this new species might never have been uncovered. This really reinforces the idea that classic training in taxonomy and systematics is absolutely necessary to discovering and understanding the biodiversity of earth."

As far as the authors of this new species know, no one has seen this species alive. "It's likely they bury small vertebrate carcasses, like their close relatives do, but if they have any different behaviors we'll have to wait for future studies to learn of them. "


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Derek Sikes, Tonya Mousseau. Description of Nicrophorus efferens, new species, from Bougainville Island (Coleoptera, Silphidae, Nicrophorinae). ZooKeys, 2013; 311: 83 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.311.5141

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Pensoft Publishers. "A bit of good luck: A new species of burying beetle from the Solomon Islands Archipelago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621104402.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2013, June 21). A bit of good luck: A new species of burying beetle from the Solomon Islands Archipelago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621104402.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "A bit of good luck: A new species of burying beetle from the Solomon Islands Archipelago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621104402.htm (accessed May 26, 2015).

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