March 2012 Archives

Bizarre "King of Wasps" Found in Indonesia

Dave Mosher
for National Geographic News
Published March 27, 2012

A new species of giant, venomous wasp has been found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, scientists say.

The two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) black insects are shrouded in mystery--all of the wasp specimens caught so far have been dead.

"I'm not certain any researcher has ever seen one alive, but they are very bizarre-looking," said study co-author Lynn Kimsey, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis, who co-discovered the insect.

"It's the extreme version of the [larrine wasp] subfamily they belong to."

A new species of venomous sea snake mysteriously covered head to tail in spiny scales has been discovered in treacherous seas off northern Australia, a new study says.

Though some other sea snakes have spiky scales on their bellies, "no other [known] sea snake has this curious feature," study leader Kanishka Ukuwela, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide, said by email.

Normally snakes have smooth scales, but each of the newly named Hydrophis donaldi's scales has a spiny projection, he said.