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Giant wasps found in Indonesia

March 23, 2012 at 6:37 PM   |   Comments

JAKARTA, March 23 (UPI) -- A giant wasp species with sickle-shaped jaws longer than its forelegs was discovered by an expedition to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, researchers say.

Scientists have named the new species Megalara garuda after Garuda, the national symbol of Indonesia, a part-human, part-eagle mythical creature known as the King of Birds in Hindu mythology.

Writing in the journal ZooKeys, researchers described the wasp as pitch black with enormous body size and belonging to the digger wasp family, a diverse group with species found all over the world.

Specimens were collected in Sulawesi, and were independently also found in the insect collections of the Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin, where they were awaiting discovery since the 1930s when they were collected previously on Sulawesi but never identified.

Since this species has never been observed alive, researchers said, nothing is known about its biology or behavior.

In other digger wasp species, female digger wasps search for other insects as prey for their young and paralyze the prey by stinging it.

The possible prey of the new species is unknown, researchers said.

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