Some regions of the world are richer in biodiversity than others. Australia is an often mentioned country with a high degree of biodiversity. But many Americans are thankful that the vast open spaces of North America are not populated by a plethora of terrifying critters. However, this does mean that Americans are less likely to discover a new species of animal while out hiking. In a country like Madagascar or Malaysia, tourists and natives could probably find at least one new tiny insect species if they searched for them long enough. And this is exactly what recently happened in well known nature preserve, as a team of “citizen scientists” successfully spotted and captured at least three insect species that are entirely unknown to science.

The discovery was made in Danum Valley near Lahad Datu, which is a four hundred and thirty eight square kilometer nature preserve located in Malaysia. Many enthusiastic citizen scientists venture out to this nature preserve in order to locate new species. An association known as Taxon Expeditions trains willing citizen scientists on how to search for, and identify new species, most of which are insects. The group is concerned with using every human resource available in order to discover unknown species. The association’s motto is: “You can be Darwin too”. The director of Taxon Expeditions believes that around eighty percent of all organisms on the planet have not been identified and categorized as a species yet.

The insects that were recently discovered in the nature preserve are all different types of beetles. Three of the beetles belong to the family Elmidae (riffle beetles). But three other beetles that were found have never been described in scientific literature before. But now, the three new species have already been described in numerous entomology publications. The insects were named after the team members who found them. Another group of citizen scientists are venturing out into the preserve in March of 2018 with the Taxon Expeditions program.

Would you be willing to search the wilderness for new insect or spider species if it meant having your discoveries named after you?


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