Thursday, 17 May 2012

UNLV students discover new scorpion species


Two UNLV researchers have provided more evidence that we human beings have a lot to learn about what's going on out there.
Graduate students Michael Webber and Matt Graham have discovered, documented and reported on a new species of scorpion, found in Death Valley National Park.
"I think people don't appreciate how often new species are discovered," Graham said. "What's really neat about this one is it was an especially rare genus."
Graham, 32, and Webber, 27, are doctoral students in biology. They both study scorpions.
There are almost 2,000 different species of scorpions already known. They can be smaller than a staple or bigger than the screen on an iPad.
Wernerius inyoensis measures 16.4 mm, about two-thirds of an inch. It could sit on top of a dime and have room to spare.
The scorpion Graham found is the only one ever documented, despite the fact that he found it in a national park, one of the more heavily studied wilderness areas.
They wrote about their findings in the scientific journal ZooKeys in March.
It all started in late 2008 and early 2009, when Graham was part of a team working for the National Park Service. He'd come to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from West Virginia specifically so he could be in the middle of scorpion country.
He's one of those guys who had all kinds of critters in his house as a young man.
So the park service had this inventory project going in Death Valley. It's hard to manage a geographic area if you don't know what's out there to manage, so they wanted a basic count on the critters in the park.
You can't tell if environmental changes are killing off certain species, for example, if you don't have at least a rough idea of how many you started with.

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