A new wasp species has been discovered by scientists. Nicknamed the Dementor wasp, Ampulex dementor belongs to the 139 species uncovered in 2014 along the Mekong River in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. But despite the unique wasp’s hunting technique, it is already under threat, as are countless species whose habitats are being slowly destroyed.
The Harry Potter-inspired wasps hunt down their prey in a unique way. Cockroaches, the wasp’s ideal meal choice, are stung in the abdomen with a semi-paralyzing venom. Instead of leaving victims completely paralyzed, the wasp’s venom only affects the nerves.
In some respects, the Dementor wasp steals its victim’s “free will”, as it is no longer capable of coordinated movement. The wasps are then able to drag the cockroaches to a safe place and eat them alive.
Along with the Dementor wasp, scientists also discovered 138 new species in Asia, a World Wildlife Fund report states. These species are also under threat and include a color-changing frog, a long-fanged bat as well many reptile species.
All in all, scientists have managed to identify one mammal, 16 amphibians, 9 fish, 23 reptiles and 90 previously unknown plants in Mekong.
Ampulex dementor received its name in Berlin at the Museum für Naturkunde during a voting session organized for visitors. But the Dementor wasp is not the sole representative of Hogwarts-inspired creatures. Dracorex hogwartsia, for instance, is another member of the club.
Such taxonomy (the practice of classification) endeavors have proven to be fruitful in engaging participants in one of the essential disciplines of museums.
The name stems from the cloaked creatures made famous by J.K. Rowling in the third book of the Harry Potter trilogy, the Prisoner of Azkaban. Dementors would drain the happiness of the one they attacked, and visitors considered the name to be quite befitting.
Usually, taxonomy is no easy process, especially because of the definite rules and Latin verbiage. It’s precisely because of this difficulty that the public often feels discouraged to participate. But even though certain animals may not be as charismatic as koala bears or snuggly guinea pigs, visitors proved to be very receptive when it came to the nomenclature process.
The creatures classified in 2014 are all being threatened by increased poaching and habitat loss, the WWF says. Whether such species represent prized additions to specific collections or simple goods to be sold and profited from, one thing is clear. They all need protection.
Hopefully, naming some of these new discoveries will make a lasting impact on the public and help these species gather some much needed sympathizers.
Image Source: Naturkunde Museum Berlin
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