Jewel beetles, obtained from local people, turn out to be four species unknown to science
A team of researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences discovered four new species of jewel beetles (Buprestidae) from South-eastern Asia. This family of beetles is named for their particularly beautiful body and fascinating, shiny colours.
"All new species belong to the genus Philanthaxia. Before the publication of this study, 61 species had been known from this genus. Currently, it comprises of 65 species, with a primarily Southeast-Asian distribution, except for two species extending to the Australasian region", said Oto Nakládal, a co-author of the study.
The new species P. pseudoaenea occurs in Thailand, while P. jakli, P. chalcogenioides and P. lombokana are distributed on some Indonesian islands (Sumatra, Borneo, Lombok). The biology of all these species is unknown, just as the host plants, because all specimens were obtained from the locals.
The specialists also described sexual dimorphism of Philanthaxia iris. This species had originally been described on the basis of a single female from Java, and male specimens had not been known so far. Due to the specimen from a local collector, also from Java, it was possible to describe a male.
Inventories of biodiversity "hot-spots", such as Southeast Asia, is extremely important because of the increasing extinction rates due to rapid changes of natural habitats. Several species become extinct before even known to science. "Mankind is not even able to evaluate the real losses associated with species extinction, because every individual species is, as a rule, a result of millions of years of evolution and adaptation and has therefore its unique role in the ecosystems" Nakládal added.