Dr. Renato Machado from the Texas A & M University and colleagues reported the discovery of the first species of focepfly found in Central and South America in the Feb. 14, 2013, issue of the journal Zookeys.
The new species of Meropeidae (Mecoptera) is only the third know species of forcepfly in the world.
Forcepflies are unique in that the males have a large genital forceps that are assumed to have some function in mating. So little is known about these insects that no record of their larvae exists. The adults are known to be nocturnal and are capable of making sounds by rubbing certain body parts together.
The discovery of this new species joins a relative in North America and one in Western Australia. This leads the researchers to consider the insects to have a very ancient origin that preceded the breakup of the ancient super continent of Pangaea. Fossil data exists confirming the existence of two extinct genera in Siberia and Kyrgyzstan during the Middle Jurassic.
Austromerope brasiliensis was collected in a private ranch near a forest fragment surrounded by farms in the Atlantic Forest biome, one of the most threatened in Brazil. The insect can be found in be found in a variety of habitats, including woodland, Jarrah forest, and sand plain vegetation.
The scientists note that this insect as well as many unknown forms of life is endangered in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by deforestation and other human activity.