Feeds

Bumblebee boffins rediscover long-vanished species

Rare US insect had not been seen since 1956

High performance access to file storage

Scientists have rediscovered an extremely rare species of bumblebee in the US, which hasn't been seen since 1956.

Cockerell's Bumblebee

Cockerell's Bumblebee. Credit: G Ballmer, UC Riverside

The find has prompted a lot of excitement due to the concern about bee species disappearing around the world.

The bumblebee boffins, from University of California, Riverside, spotted the specimens in the weeds along a highway north of a town called Cloudcroft at the end of August.

The 'Cockerell's Bumblebee' had originally been described in 1913 from six samples collected along the Rio Ruidoso in New Mexico, and another 16 specimens found near Cloudcroft, which explains why the bee is so rare.

A species nearing extinction, the 'Franklin's Bumblebee' comes from an area covering around 13,000 square miles, while the Cockerell's Bumblebee is only found in an area of less than 300 square miles, the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world.

“When an insect species is very rare, or highly localized, it can fairly easily escape detection for very long periods of time,” Douglas Yanega, senior museum scientist, said in a canned statement from the university.

“There are many precedents - some of them very recently in the news, in fact - of insects that have been unseen for anywhere from 70 to more than 100 years, suddenly turning up again when someone either got lucky enough, or persistent enough, to cross paths with them again.

"It is much harder to give conclusive evidence that an insect species has gone extinct than for something like a bird or mammal or plant,” he added.

Entomologists often rediscover insect species thought to be lost, and even find entirely new species at the rate of several dozen a year, usually in bees, wasps, beetles and plant bugs.

"It should come as no surprise that we discover so many new species of insects so easily,” Yanega said.

“But the pace of species discovery and description is incredibly slow because there are so few insect taxonomists relative to the number of undescribed insects. Moreover, the work is painstaking, time-consuming, and not very glamorous, at least in the public’s perception, when compared to studying things like dinosaurs.”

Now that the Cockerell Bumblebee has been found again, the next step will be for bumblebee boffins to gather more data on the distribution and biology of the species, which up to now has been overlooked. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.