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MaltaToday 4 January 2023 MIDWEEK

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9 NEWS WORLD maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 4 JANUARY 2023 FROM 34 species of moths to three new dinosaur species and 19 new species of stick insects, the researchers and scientists at the Natural History Museum have described 351 new species in 2022 and given them all scien- tific names so they can be better protected for years to come. Among the bumper crop of new species are a new species of gecko from the Seychelles, two bumble- bees from Asia, and seven species of frogs, including six teeny tiny Mexican frogs. These frogs are smaller than 8 millimetres (0.3 inches), which is less than the size of a 1p coin. No wonder we ha- ven't discovered them until now. Other finds include a 35 mil- lion-year-old beetle trapped in Ukrainian amber. It revealed that the climate in Ukraine must have been significantly milder when the beetle was buzzing around in the Late Eocene. This find was part of an international research collaboration involving scientists from the Czech Republic, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. "We considered it important to stay together to assist one anoth- er and achieve the best possible result as a team, despite the pres- ent situation [in Ukraine]," ex- plained Dr Dmitry Telnov, a Cu- rator of beetles at the Museum. "With this discovery we do not sort or judge any colleagues, but send a clear message to the scien- tific community that staying unit- ed and supporting one another is how the war can be finished." The group with the most new additions in 2022 is the wasps. Eighty five new species were de- scribed and named, featuring a beautiful parasitic species with extraordinary feather-like wings. It is thought that these species might be beneficial to the agri- culture industry as they serve to parasitize the eggs of thrips, which can cause crop damage, and could be important in un- derstanding different methods of biological control. "It's no surprise that new wasp species came out on top, it's just a surprise that wasps don't come top every year," explained Dr Gavin Broad, the Principal Cu- rator in Charge of Insects at the Museum and an expert in Hyme- noptera, the group that contains wasps. "The abundance of parasi- toid wasps makes the order Hy- menoptera the most species-rich order of insects, but it is way be- hind some other groups in terms of actual species descriptions." Other fascinating species in- clude a centipede with a number of segments that's never been seen by scientists before, seven species of new flies, and two poly- chaete worms discovered in the depths of the ocean. It's not just fancy new animals making the list either, three new species of min- erals were described, 11 new spe- cies of algae both extinct and ex- tant, and even four new species of plants from across southern Asia. It's not just the Natural History Museum making discoveries of new species either. Anew pearl oyster, bird hybrid, and frogs with noisy bellies that have also appeared in 2022. UK's Natural History Museum described and named 351 new species in 2022 Above: Craugastor, a miniture frog species from Mexico Left: Megaphragma, a new species of parasitic wasp

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