Pajama Science

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 14 2012 @ 6:47pm


by Chas Danner

International Science Times explains how the web helped give the bug above its name:

Shaun Winterton, an insect biosystematist with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was flipping through insect photos on Flickr when he happened across the photographic work of Hock Ping Guek. Guek, who lives in Malaysia, had posted images of an unidentified lacewing he'd come across in a nearby forest which Winterton soon realized was of an entirely new species.

However, in order for that to be confirmed, a specimen would have to be obtained:

He contacted Guek, who had let the star of his original photographs go. About a year later on January 27, 2012, Guek managed to catch another lacewing which he photographed and sent to Winterton. Though it may have never been previously recognized as a species, the Guek's lacewing wasn't entirely new to science. With the sample now in hand, Winterton writes that a second lacewing was found in the entomology collection at London's Natural History Museum. Apparently, passing completely unnoticed. With the specimens preserved and described, Winterton decided to name the lacewing after his daughter, Jade. Thus, Semachrysa jade.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, Angela Micol, a satellite archaeology researcher, might have made a discovery of her own using Google Earth: lost Egyptian pyramids:


One of the complex sites contains a distinct, four-sided, truncated, pyramidal shape that is approximately 140 feet in width. This site contains three smaller mounds in a very clear formation, similar to the diagonal alignment of the Giza Plateau pyramids. The second possible site [seen in the top half of the above image] contains four mounds with a larger, triangular-shaped plateau. The two larger mounds at this site are approximately 250 feet in width, with two smaller mounds approximately 100 feet in width. This site complex is arranged in a very clear formation with the large plateau, or butte, nearby in a triangular shape with a width of approximately 600 feet.

It is also possible the mounds were formed naturally, but it won't be clear until someone takes a closer look:

It's easy to read too much into Google Earth sightings, and people do it all the time. But in this case, egyptologist and pyramid expert Nabil Selim has confirmed that these may well be the real thing. Not even one percent of ancient Egypt has been excavated. And this isn't the first time a little virtual digging has recovered lost treasures in Egypt. Last year, egyptologist and UAB professor Sarah Parcak announced that she found 17 pyramids, 3,100 ancient settlements, and upwards of 1,000 tombs with the aid of infrared satellite images. That's a lot of mummies.

(Hat tip for the lacewing story: NPR Picture Show; Top photo: Semachrysa jade by Guek Hock Ping/ZooKeys via Wikimedia Commons; Bottom image by Angela Micol/Google Earth)