Science

A strange new species of bee with a dog-like nose has been discovered

Leioproctus zephyrus
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Leioproctus zephyrus

An example of a new wasp species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

A new species of native bee with a dog-like ‘nose’ has been discovered in the bushland of Perth, Western Australia. This has been determined through research led by Curtin University, which sheds new light on our most important pollinators.

Dr. Kit Prendergast, from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, named the new species after his pet dog Zephyr after noticing a protruding part of the insect’s face that looked like a dog’s nose. The name also acknowledges the role her dog played in providing emotional support during her PhD. Dr. Prendergast is the author of a paper on the discovery published on October 31 Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

According to Dr. Prendergast said the rare and remarkable find will add to existing knowledge about our evolving biodiversity. This will provide the bees, named Leioproctus zephyrwas protected by conservation efforts.

“When I first examined the samples I collected during my PhD research on the biodiversity of native bees in urbanized areas of the biodiversity hotspot of south-west WA, I was immediately intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” said Dr. Prendergast said.

Specimen of Leioproctus zephyrus

An example of a new wasp species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

“When I went to identify it, I found that it did not match any of the described species, and I was sure that if it had been a known species, it would have been very easy to identify, given how unusual it was in appearance.

“You can confirm a particular species only after going through museum collections after looking at it under a microscope and trying to match its characteristics to other identified species.

“While looking through the WA Museum’s Entomology collection, I discovered that there were several specimens Leioproctus zephyrus first collected in 1979 but never scientifically described.

Dr. Prendergast said he is excited to play a role in recognizing and officially naming these species.

“Insects in general are very diverse and very important, but we don’t have scientific descriptions or names for many of them,” said Dr. Prendergast said.

“The Leioproctus zephyr has a highly restricted distribution, occurring in only seven locations across south-west WA to date and has not been collected from its original locations. They were completely absent from residential gardens and only present in the five urban scrub remnants I studied, where they fed on two types of plants. Jacksonia.

“This species has a clypeus that is not only scaly, but looks like a nose. So I named them after my dog ​​Zephyr. He has been crucial to my mental health and well-being during the difficult period of my PhD and beyond.

Dr. Prendergast was able to confirm that the new species was most closely related to other unknown species Leioproctuss passed[{” attribute=””>DNA barcoding.

Reference: “Leioproctus zephyr Prendergast (Hymenoptera, Colletidae, Leioproctus), an oligoletic new bee species with a distinctive clypeus” by Kit S. Prendergast, 31 October 2022, Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
DOI: 10.3897/jhr.93.85685

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