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Researchers discovered 103 new species of beetles on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi [soo-lah-WEY-see].
Sulawesi, with its lush rainforests, hosts a variety of exotic wildlife. Many insects are also found on the island, but many of them remain unidentified. This prompted researchers from the Natural History Museum Karlsruhe [KAHRLS-roo-uh] in Germany and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences to survey the area.
The researchers collected thousands of beetles from the rainforests of Sulawesi. After conducting DNA analyses, they found out that the beetles were all weevils, which are tiny insects that grow only up to three millimeters long. At first glance, the beetles looked similar in appearance, but they turned out to be different kinds of weevils.
Dr. Alexander Riedel, lead author of the research, explained that finding the weevils was no mean feat because of the beetles’ miniature size. But telling the weevils apart proved to be even more challenging to the researchers. This is because they needed to employ special methods that were not easily accessible to scientists in Indonesia.
After identifying the different weevils, the researchers moved on to the tedious task of naming all 103 new species. While some species were named according to their characteristics, others were given more unique names. One species was named after the Star Wars character Yoda, and some were named after famous scientists.
Brett Ratcliffe, an entomologist who did not take part in the research, commended the researchers’ efforts. He explained that with the decrease of insect population, identifying new species is valuable.
According to Dr. Riedel, he intends to continue doing his work and keep finding new species of weevils.