Sunday Night Movie: QI on new species & honey bees

Comedians holding forth on biodiversity:

[source: QI]

Entertainers are not, generally speaking, the best source of biology knowledge. But the point about novel species lurking in our gardens is quite true.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Night Movie: QI on new species & honey bees”

  1. With so many species named after where they were found, or at least places in their range, (pennsylvanicus, virginiana, etc,) I wonder if scientific names should start getting more specific on the location?

    1. I’m generally against naming based on location unless the natural geographic range is well established. How confusing is it that the Pennsylvania Carpenter Ant is found well beyond Pennsylvania throughout all of eastern North America? And that the German cockroach isn’t from Germany?

  2. “Orchids have been studied for over 250 years. I have been to the same patch of forest more than 200 times. I have discovered six orchids new to science and documented 57 new records for Mindoro and the Philippines. I walk past the same spot 20 times and on the 21st time I see a new plant. That means I was blind the first 20 times. That’s what it takes.”

    (Orchid hunter Ravan Schneider)

  3. Incidentally, Jennifer Owen, mentioned in the clip about how she discovered new species to science in her garden, documented her finds in a very good book: Wildlife of a Garden: A Thirty-year Study.

  4. I’ve found two new species in the past few years (that I’m aware of – I’ve been part of a parasitoid-rearing undertaking, and certainly some of those have been undescribed species) just by rummaging around gravel driveways in swampy southeastern Louisiana. One is a minute mandibular-horned fungus beetle, from a shelf fungus on a cypress stump in the yard of the field station I was visiting. The other is an excruciatingly rare type of parasitic wasp in the genus Olixon, that was wandering among the weeds along an access road. I have to make the disclaimer that in neither case was I the first person to find the species, but still, I found them before a description had been written.

    I’m finding that the trick is to look closely at little things. The other trick is knowing enough to recognize when something is new, or being able to communicate with a taxonomist who can know it for you. For me, the internet, and BugGuide in particular, led me to the right taxonomist almost immediately!

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