Miniature Grasshopper-like Insect Discovered in Belize

Posted on February 15, 2012

Ripipteryx Mopana

Scientists at the University of Illinois have discovered a new species of tiny, grasshopper-like insect in the tropical rainforests of Belize. The new species is named Ripipteryx mopana. The name commemorates the Mopan people - a Mayan group, native to the region.

Dr. Sam Heads and Dr. Steve Taylor co-authored a research paper on the insect, which was published in ZooKeys. The insect is a tiny, black, white and orange colored, grasshopper-like species that uses its large jumping hind legs to escape predators. The tiny insect is less than 5 mm long.

Dr. Sam Heads says, "Belize is famous for its biodiversity, although very little is known about the insect fauna of the southern part of the country. This is particularly true of the Orthoptera - the grasshoppers, crickets and katydids. The new insect is the first representative of it's family ever to be found in Belize. Given the amount of high quality habitats in the region, it isn't really surprising that new species still await discovery, especially in the less -explored areas."

ZooKeys 169: 1-9. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.169.2531

Photo: Sam W. Heads, Steven J. Taylor

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