Saturday 23 January 2016

Arulenus miae: A new species of Pygmy Devil from Mindanao Island (& Facebook).

Pygmy Devils, Discotettiginae, are small members of the Tetrigidae (Dwarf Grasshoppers) from South and East Asia. They are generally terrestrial, feeding on Algae and Bryophytes (Non-vascular Plants), though some species are semi-aquatic and feed on aquatic Algae and Plants.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 22 January 2016, Josep Skejo of the Special Interest Group Tetrigidae of the Biology Students Association at the Department of Biology at University of Zagreb and Joy Caballero of the Department of Biology at Central Mindanao University describe a new species of Pygmy Devil from Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

The new species was first recognized by Josep Skejo from a photograph posted on the Orthoptera Facebook group, with specimens later found for sale on the LesColeopteres webpage. The species was subsequently located in the wild by a team led by Alma Mohagan of the Central Mindanao University. It is placed in the genus Arulenus, and given the specific name miae, in honour of Miae Jurić, a student of Fashion and Textile Design at the Faculty of Textile Technology at the University of Zagreb, and friend of Josep Skejo. 

Original Facebook image of the first specimen of Arulenus maiae. Leif Gabrielsen in Skejo & Caballero (2016).

The species is large for a Pygmy Devil, with the largest specimens reaching about 13 mm in length. Its body has a generally smooth texture, covered in small granulations. They are predominantly black in colour, with a black or dark brown head, with yellow eyes and a number of yellow tubercles and dorsal spines with red tips.

 Skejo and Caballero further note that social media present a great deal of potential for natural historians in general and entomologists in particular, with images being shared on a variety of platforms, such as EBay and Flikr, and in particular Facebook, where there are a number of specialist groups for entomologists and orthopterists, such as Entomology, Insect Identification, InsectIndia, Orthoptera, The Orthopterists Society and Orthotera of Thailand.

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