Berlin: Scientists have discovered a new and unusual wasp species during an expedition to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
The new species is pitch black, has an enormous body size, and its males have long, sickle-shaped jaws. It belongs into the digger wasp family, which is a diverse group of wasps with several thousands of species known from all over the world.
Female digger wasps search for other insects as prey for their young and paralyze the prey by stinging it. Prey selection is often species specific, but the prey of the new species is unknown, the journal ZooKeys reported.
With its unusual body size and the male's jaws, the new species differs from all known related digger wasps, so much so that it was placed in a new genus of its own, Megalara, a combination of the Greek Mega, meaning large, and the ending of Dalara, a related wasp genus.
Lynn Kimsey (University of California Davis) and Michael Ohl (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin), who discovered the giant wasp simultaneously and have collaborated on it, named the species after Garuda, the national symbol of Indonesia, a part-human, part-eagle mythical creature known as the King of Birds in Indian mythology.
Since this species has never been observed alive, nothing is known about its biology or behaviour. The males of Megalara garuda are distinctly larger than the females, and bear very long jaws, said a university statement.
As can be deduced from other insects with large jaws, it is likely that the males hold the females with it during copulation. It is also possible that they use the jaws for defence.
First Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 13:44