Science

Bizarre new species of bee discovered with a dog-like snout

Leioproctus zephyrus
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Leioproctus zephyrus

Specimen of a new species of bee, Leioproctus zephyr. Photo credit: Curtin University

A new native bee species with a dog-like “snout” has been discovered in the Perth bushveld of Western Australia. It was identified by research led by Curtin University, which sheds new light on our key pollinators.

Dr. Kit Prendergast of the Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences named the new species after her dog, Zephyr, after noticing a protruding part of the insect’s face that resembled a dog’s snout. The name also honors the role her dog played in providing emotional support throughout her PhD. DR. Prendergast is the author of a paper on the discovery published October 31 in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

according to dr Prendergast, the rare and remarkable find would add to the existing knowledge of our evolving biodiversity. It would also ensure that the bees are named Leioproctus zephyrwere protected by conservation efforts.

“When I first examined the samples I collected during my doctoral studies to discover the biodiversity of native bees in urbanized regions of southwest Washington’s biodiversity hotspot, I was immediately intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” said dr said Prendergast.

Leioproctus zephyrus specimen

Specimen of a new species of bee, Leioproctus zephyr. Photo credit: Curtin University

“When I went to identify it, I found that it did not match any described species, and I felt certain that if it were a known species, it would be fairly easy to identify given how unusual it is it looks.

“The only way you can confirm a particular species is by looking at it under a microscope and going through the long process of trying to match its characteristics to other identified species, and then going through museum collections.

“Looking through the WA Museum’s entomology collection, I discovered that some specimens of Leioproctus zephyrus was first collected in 1979 but never scientifically described.”

DR. Prendergast said she was excited to play a role in popularizing and officially naming these species.

“Insects in general are so diverse and so important, but for so many of them we don’t have scientific descriptions or names,” says Dr. said Prendergast.

“That Leioproctus zephyr has a highly restricted distribution, so far only occurs at seven sites in southwest WA and has not been collected from its original location. They were entirely absent from residential gardens and were found only in five urban shrubland remnants I surveyed, where they fed on two plant species Jacksonia.

“Not only is this species choosy, it also has a clypeus that looks like a snout. So I named it after my dog, Zephyr. She was so important to my mental health and well-being during the challenging time of my Ph.D. and beyond.”

Dr. Prendergast was able to confirm that the new species was most closely related to other unidentified species leiproctuswith through[{” attribute=””>DNA barcoding.

Reference: “Leioproctus zephyr Prendergast (Hymenoptera, Colletidae, Leioproctus), an oligoletic new bee species with a distinctive clypeus” by Kit S. Prendergast, 31 October 2022, Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
DOI: 10.3897/jhr.93.85685

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