Entomologist Shaun Winterton was browsing pictures of bugs on the internet (their equivalent of cats I suppose) when he saw this lacewing on a Flickr page. Despite being a senior member of the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture, he had never seen anything like the black and blue markings on the wings. Neither had any of his colleagues.

He contacted the photographer, Guek Hock Ping, only to find that the picture had been taken in Malaysia and the specimen had flown off afterward. Without a sample, there was no way to confirm its species. That is, until a year later when Ping called him back saying he had been back and found one of the lacewings, and it was in a container on his kitchen table.

It was indeed a new species, and was named¬†Semachrysa jade,¬†after Winterton’s daughter.

This just goes to show what amateur scientists, combined with the powerful resources of the Internet, can accomplish. Who knows how many new species are hidden among Flickr, or rare astronomical observation is buried in an obscure forum. I encourage everybody to explore the world around you and when you discover something you aren’t familiar with, look it up!

It may turn out that nobody else is familiar with it either.