HAMBURG (dpa) – Scientists from Indonesia and Germany have discovered 98 new species of a beetle genus on Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands, according to a report in the Bulgarian-based scientific journal ZooKeys.
Although the tropical islands of Java, Bali and Lombok are popular tourist destinations, remnants of their original rain forests still harbour largely unexplored insect fauna. The scientists searched leaf litter in the woods for the weevil genus Trigonopterus. Of the 99 species they found, only one was in museum collections, the report says.
German researchers Alexander Riedel from Karlsruhe’s State Museum of Natural History and Michael Balke of the State Zoological Collection in Munich, who have experience in the remote forests of New Guinea, were quoted as saying, “It is surprising that in Bali, even areas regularly visited by package tours can be the home of unknown species.”
Yayuk R Suhardjono, a researcher at the Indonesian Research Centre for Biology, added: “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.”
A portion of DNA from each weevil species was sequenced and high-resolution photographs of each weevil were taken and uploaded to the Species ID website, along with a short scientific description.
One species was named in honour of the English broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.