Termitologists Discover New Termite Species in Colombia

Posted on October 21, 2016

Proneotermes macondianus

Scientists have discovered a new termite species in Colombia. The new species is the first in the genus Proneotermes discovered in 100 years. It has been named after the fiction town Macondo from the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez.

The new species is named Proneotermes macondianus. Macondo stands for a forgotten microcosm in the history of Colombia. The termite species was discovered by termitologists Robin Casalla, Freiburg University, Germany, and Universidad del Norte, Colombia, Dr Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, University of Florida, USA, and Prof Dr Judith Korb, Freiburg University.

Soldiers of the new species have elongated, rectangular heads that range in color from black at the tip to ferruginous orange at the back. The termites live in small colonies of about 20 individuals. The researchers say the termites have a "voracious appetite for drywood, especially thin branches of less than 2 cm in diameter." A research paper on the new termite species was published here in the journal, ZooKeys.

Robin Casalla, lead author of the study, says in the announcement, "P. macondianus may have been one of those characters playing in the novel during the destruction of Macondo, remaining unrecognized until today."

Photo: Robin Casalla