Malaysian finds new species, American names it

Photo: Guek Hock Ping

Malaysian photographer and amateur scientist Guek Hock Ping discovered a new species of fly while out hiking in Selangor in May last year. He didn’t know it was a new species at the time. He blogged and posted the photos on Flickr, asking for help to identify it. The images of a gorgeous white lacewing, with black markings setting off its transparent wings caught the eye of American entomologist Shaun Winterton who, with the help of British taxonomist Stephen Brook, identified it as a new species.

Photo: Guek Hock Ping

The story has now been reported all over the world. It’s a true Internet sensation: a Malaysian, Flickr and Blogspot, an American scientist, a British taxonomist, all three collaborating via Google Docs to write a scientific paper, published at the online journal Zookeys. More proof that the world is getting to be one village. Here’s a Mashable account, via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Guek and Winterton share the scientific credit for the discovery but it was Winterton, however, who named the lacewing Semachrysa jade (after his daughter).

It’s a pity Guek did not get to name the insect.

The convention in science is that the person who discovers a new species gets to name it, and it was Winterton who positively identified it as a new species.

But still… it was Guek, after all, who actually found it — and went back to the Selangor forest reserve in January this year and captured a specimen. He should have been given joint naming rights. Fair’s fair.

Where Guek found a new species

Makes you wonder what else is in there…and perhaps wonder what has disappeared when our other forests were chopped down. To forestall the onset of further maudlin thoughts, keep in mind that glorious, uplifting and inspirational saying on the lips of many people nowadays. “You can’t stop development”, they say, “they” being business people, government people and, curiously, quite a few DAP people lately. Looks like the end is truly nigh. The so-called March of Human Progress will be unstoppable now. Enjoy the sight of the Jade lapwing lacewing* while it lasts. It’s not an iconic project, you see. | » More news about Guek’s discovery | » Guek’s blog

*tq @coolvirus