Sunday, March 25, 2007

A New Wetapunga from New Zealand?

80 scientists just finished a blitz survey of the Otari-Wilton's Bush reserve in Wellington, New Zealand. As part of this 24 hours blitz collected, counted and found over 1300 species, among them a cave living wetapunga.

The researchers speculate that the cave "weta" may be a new species, even genus of the group.

Wetapunga's are the heaviest insects known in the world, weighing upwards of 2 1/2 ounces and over 3.5 inches long. These large wingless crickets once lived throughout New Zealand, and are now reduced to small populations primarily on Little Barrier Island.

If this is a true new species, or even genus, then it is an important geographic find for conservation. Regardless of the taxonomic classification though, the find is key to conservation protection of the native animals of New Zealand and elsewhere.

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