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Following a long-year study of the family of twirler moths, an Austrian-Danish research team discovered a startling total of 44 new species, including as many as 22 species inhabiting various regions throughout Europe.
Given that the Old Continent is the most thoroughly researched one, their findings, published in the open access journal ZooKeys, pose fundamental questions about our knowledge of biodiversity. Such wealth of new to science European moths has not been published within a single research article since 1887.
Scale - Moths - Earth - Regions - Authors
"The scale of newly discovered moths in one of the Earth's most studied regions is both sensational and completely unexpected," say authors Dr. Peter Huemer, Tyrolean State Museum, and Ole Karsholt of the University of Copenhagen's Zoological Museum. To them, the new species come as proof that, "despite dramatic declines in many insect populations, our fundamental investigations into species diversity are still far from complete".
For the authors, it all began when they spotted what seemed like an unclassifiable species of twirler moth in the South Tyrolean Alps. In order to confirm it as a new species, the team conducted a 5-year study into the type specimens of all related species spread across the museum collections of Paris, London, Budapest and many in between.
Status - Species - Scientists - Colouration - Markings
To confirm the status of all new species, the scientists did not only look for characteristic colouration, markings and anatomical features, but also used the latest DNA methods to create unique genetic fingerprints for most of the species in the form of DNA barcodes.
What's in a name?
Challenge - Researchers - Names - Species - Species
A particular challenge for the researchers was to choose as many as 44 names for the new species. Eventually, they named one of the species after the daughter of one of the authors, others—after colleagues and...
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