Student finds new insect species


Liu (Left) and her teacher He.

ECNU’s research team for insects under the School of Life Sciences has discovered two new species of Atlanticus Scudder. The finding was announced in a research paper published on March 12, which was made by a freshman of the ECNU’s Elite Class of Science, Liu Xiaotong. Liu was the first author of the research paper while her teacher He Zhuqing was the correspondent author.

The discovery provides detailed descriptions of the insects’ physical features and records their sounds and movements.

Atlanticus Scudder is assignable to the genus of orthoptera insect. It has hind feet and is good at jumping. Of all Atlanticus magnificus insects, Locust is the most infamous. Although relatives of locusts, such as grasshoppers and crickets, are called singing insects because their chirpings are pleasing to the ears. As a kind of paurometabola insect, atlanticus magnificus’ skin takes on a protective color - like khaki - that is similar to fallen leaves and mud, which makes the insects hard to see.

Different species of male Atlanticus magnificus make different sounds to attract females of their own kinds, which makes chirping a key reference to classify such species. In one instance, Hu Zhuqing of ECNU was collecting insects in the wild of Zhejiang Province when he happened to hear the chirpings of Atlanticus magnificus insects vary by location. Liu thus put different species into separate plastic boxes with holes and recorded their sounds to test the differences.

Analyses found that the sounds conform to certain regularities even though they differ greatly in other aspects. Two of the sounds especially absorbed Liu’s attention. A molecular sequencing result indicated that the sounds are made by two different species despite that they look similar in outlook.

The researchers named the species “Break” because their chirpings are discontinuous, lacking any form of pattern like other insect species.

Specimens of the new species are available now at ECNU Biological Museum where there is a collection of over 30,000 insect samples, 20 of which are newly discovered. It has become a key insect taxonomy research center and undertakes projects to pilot the State-level specimen digitalization program.

Liu Xiaotong was enrolled into the Elite Class of Physics in 2016. She later transferred to the biological class out of love for the subject and started anew as a freshman. She specializes in innovative insect research projects. He Zhuqing received a master’s degree in biology from ECNU in 2010 and a Ph.D from Kobe University of Japan in 2014. He teaches basic entomology and zoology, and works as a part-time manager of the ECNU Biological Museum. He has published 19 essays in publications listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI) as the first author or correspondent author, and is involved in the discovery of more than 20 new species of insects.

More information about the new inscets: Atlanticus Scudder.pdf



East China Normal University