By Joy Simmons
For nearly 90 years, entomologists thought they knew all the orders of insects.
But now scientists say they have discovered a major new group. BYU students and faculty are unraveling the insects” DNA to see where this new group fits into the insect family tree.
Michael Whiting, a professor of zoology at BYU, says the new insects” closest relatives are the walking stick, praying mantis, and ice bugs, a small group of insects that live only on glaciers. He said what is interesting is that these new insects, so far, are only found in the hot deserts of Africa.
“This new lineage comes as a shock to us,” Whiting said.
Some scientists did not think it was possible at this point in time to find a new order of bugs, so when they heard about the discovery earlier this month they thought it was an April Fool”s joke.
Whiting said the new order of insects will provide insight into some of the earlier insect groups. Scientists will also learn more about insect evolution.