Scientists discover 98 new beetle species in Java, Bali, other Indonesian islands

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Scientists from Germany and Indonesian Research Center of Biology have discovered 98 new beetle species in Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands and have named one of them after famed English naturalist Sir David Attenborough. The species have been described in journal ZooKeys.

Scientists went to the woods and searched the leaf litter for a specific group of beetles, the weevil genus Trigonopterus. All the 98 had never been seen by a human eye before, researchers said. They also described one additional species which had already been stored in museum collections.

German researchers Alexander Riedel (Natural History Museum Karlsruhe) and Michael Balke (Zoological State Collection Munich), have already had this experience in the remote forests of New Guinea.

They explained “it was surprising that in Bali even areas regularly visited by package tours can be the home of unknown species”.

“Many of these species are restricted to small areas; sometimes they are found only in a single locality. These beetles are wingless and usually stay for millions of years where they are. This makes them extremely vulnerable to changes of their habitat,” said study researcher Yayuk R Suhardjono.

A portion of each weevil species’ DNA was sequenced, which helped to sort out and diagnose species efficiently.

Besides, high-resolution photographs of each weevil were taken and uploaded to the Species ID website, along with a short scientific description.

It was also a challenge to find suitable names for so many new species, researchers said.

Some could be based on their respective localities; others were named by the Indonesian numbers one to twelve; however, the easiest choice was to name one for Sir David Attenborough in recognition of his outstanding documentaries on natural history, researchers said.

A grasshopper, a tree, a type of shrimp and a spider are among species already named after Attenborough.