Friday, April 1, 2011

Incredible new insect discovered!

Here's some amazing news, hot off the presses. Entomologists working in a remote and poorly known region of southeastern West Virginia have announced the discovery of an astonishing new species of insect previously undescribed to science. The researchers made the discovery last summer, but felt it necessary to conduct exhaustive DNA studies before making their report. Actually, this animal represents far more than just a new species - it is the sole representative of an entirely new Order! Discovery of a new species is always a thrill, and lets us know that mssing links still lurk out there. It seems like most new finds come from remote areas such as Colombian jungles or New Guinea forests, so to have such a remarkable new discovery come from a fairly well-studied place like West Virginia is truly a shocker. Read on: photos and story follow.

The world's newest Order of Class Insecta, and insofar as is known at this time, the only species in this Order. All of the details of this creature and its classification will be published next Tuesday in the esteemed scientific journal Nature, but information is already leaking out. The new Order is to be called Lepidonata, as the strange new beast clearly has lineages that can be traced to moths (Lepidoptera) and dragonflies (Odonata).


Discoverer Elroy Joe Hatfield, a field researcher with the University of West Virginia, has already branded the creature with a common name: the Luna-Hawk. In this closeup of the anterior end of the animal, we can clearly see strong grabbing-type legs armed with raptorial spines. These adaptations, along with powerful biting and chewing mouthparts, mark the Luna-Hawk as a predatorial insect. The exceptionally large eyes have evolved to allow the Luna-Hawk to see clearly in the darkest of conditions.

Says Hatfield of its initial discovery: "We was surveyin' moths and whatnot outside a latrine in Burnwood State Park. Them boys what run the place, they keep the lights on on the outside of the johns, and more weird bugs'n you can shake a stick at come in dere dat place". Adds colleague and co-finder Dr. Rufus "Skeeter" Harley: "Yes, yes, around 2 am on the night of July 31, 2010, Elroy Joe and myself were visibly startled by the sudden appearance of a very large, fast-moving insect quite unlike anything that I had ever seen in my 37 years of studying the insect fauna of West Virginia. This insect flew into the blizzard of moths surrounding the latrine's lights, and proceeded to lay siege to the hapless insects". In this tight shot, we can see the posterior end of the new insect quite well. The long tubular segmented abdomen clearly points to an ancestry with the dragonflies, yet the delicate scaled wings are obviously evolved from moths. Speculation is that the two closest living relatives of the newly discovered Luna-Hawk is the dragonfly Erythemis simplicicollis, the Eastern Pondhawk, and Actias luna, the Luna Moth.
The Luna-Hawk is without doubt a beautiful insect, and quite unique. And very dangerous, as far as insects go. It can float with the innocent beauty of a moth, yet pounce and kill with unexpected and savage ferocity. Harley and Hatfield postulate that there may be other as yet undescribed fantastical insects belonging to Order Lepidonata lurking in the wilds of West Virginia.


Future expeditions to this region will attempt to further elucidate the status of the Luna-Hawk, and try to ferret out other strange and unknown animals in West Virginia's hills and dales.


Stay tuned for further details.

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23 comments:

Phillip164 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm envisioning what other potential members of this new order might look like.
I think one that would be an awesome sight would be a Regal Comet (Citheronia regalis and Anax longipes)
Just think of the larval implications as well...

Brian

dAwN said...

Hee hee...I am going to New River...and I demand to see one or I want my money back! :0

Anonymous said...

THAT is some SERIOUSLY GOOD photoshop work. No joke. Very impressive!

Jim McCormac said...

PhotoShop? Never heard of it. This critter is real, real I say! Photos don't lie! Anyone who won't believe these probably doesn't' accept the Bigfoot photos, either!

Keith said...

Oh Jim, You will pay!

Anonymous said...

So you decided not to post a Tufted Puffin being found in Toledo like you have on past April Fool's days, I see.

Julie Zickefoose said...

The somewhat loosely attached head allows it to scan 180 degrees in search of its prey, I would imagine. I will be leading a Big Bug Sit at Burnwood Latrines at the next festival. We'll convene at midnight and sit there until the biscuits and gravy arrive. Be there or be square!

Ned Keller said...

I would have dismissed this as an April Fool's joke, if it hadn't been posted on March 31.

Bill of the Birds said...

Jim: Great post about this exciting new discovery. Julie: Sitting at the latrine until the biscuits and gravy arrive, really?

A.L. Gibson said...

Haha! I couldn't agree more with Ned! When I woke up to read this I immediately thought, "Yea, right!"

What an incredible find! Just goes to show you how little we really do know. Who knows how many more things are waiting to be discovered!

Vincent Lucas said...

Why is it always West Virginia? Lol. Happy April 1st! Fool. . . .

HeronGirl said...

Another great April Fools post! Always look forward to what you come up with.

Jim McCormac said...

Why does everyone think this is a 4/1 prank? This animal, the Luna-hawk, is like totally real, for sure! The astounding unretouched photo proves it!

Ian said...

Ah think y'all was tipplin moonshine and mebbe smokin weed in them thar West Virginny hollows. Still, yer Photyshop skills are gittin better. Y'all look out fer them swallowhawks and skipperskimmers and clubstreaks and checkerspot forktails down along that New River, y'hear.

LeeAnn said...

Funny...the older I get, the more skeptical I get! If this is legit, then WOW!!!

BTYW said...

New? I have these all the time in my back yard in New Mexico. Habitat is just like West Virginia and everything!

Randy Kreager said...

Shame on you! You had me, hook-line-and sinker, for a while! haha

Olivier Esnault said...

very funny !

George Sims said...

Wonder how long them two fellers was sittin' in that outhouse together, waitin'?

BlaBlaBlogg said...

If that is Actually a Real Bug, and not a joke, then Name it After Yourself man... I can't find Anything about that creature... Keep me posted>>
B. KACZ

JepretanHape.com said...

wow...is it real?? i want to know more about it...

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