New wasp species discovered on Table Mountain, South Africa

Pycnostigmus hoerikwaggoensisFrom the Cape Argus in South Africa:

South Africa: New Wasp Species Creates a Big Buzz

March 30, 2007

John Yeld
Cape Town

It’s a case of “Latin meets Khoisan” with the formal description of a new wasp species found on the Table Mountain chain.

The parasitoid wasp has been named Pycnostigmus hoerikwaggoensis in honour of Table Mountain National Park’s Hoerikwaggo hiking trail network, between Cape Point and the city, which is currently being established on the mountain.

Appropriately, details of the new species were released today to coincide with the formal opening of the second overnight camp on the five-night, six-day trail option, at Silvermine.

The first camp to be established, at Orange Kloof above Hout Bay, has already proved a hit and is fully booked at weekends for months to come.

A Khoisan [see also here] word, Hoerikwaggo means “mountain in the sea” or “sea mountain”, and it was the indigenous inhabitants of the Cape‘s name for Table Mountain.

The wasp was named by Simon Van Noort, curator of entomology at the natural history division of Iziko-South African Museums.

The discovery of the insect, on Constantiaberg, was made by Van Noort in 1994, but it was only recently that he was able to investigate it scientifically and conclude that it was a new species.

And he has literally thousands of other wasp specimens preserved in jars of ethanol on a multitude of shelves in a cold-room at the museum – including others from Table Mountain and elsewhere in the fynbos system, as well as many other places in Africa – that are all waiting to be scientifically described, identified and named.

“The scary thing is that we may be losing species to extinction faster than we can describe them,” Van Noort said.

The newly described species was originally collected as part of a project to document wasp species richness in what is formally called Mesic Mountain Fynbos, the dominant vegetation type on Table Mountain.

Van Noort explained that his description of this species had been undertaken in collaboration with Matt Buffington of the US Department of Agriculture, and that together they had described seven new wasp species in the sub-family Pycnostigminae.

See also here.

“The dating and analysis of archaeological material discovered at Border Cave in South Africa, has allowed us to demonstrate that many elements of material culture that characterize the lifestyle of San hunter-gatherers in southern Africa, were part of the culture and technology of the inhabitants of this site 44,000 years ago,” said Dr Lucinda Backwell, a senior researcher in paleoanthropology at the Wits University’s Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research and co-author of both papers: here.

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2 thoughts on “New wasp species discovered on Table Mountain, South Africa

  1. Pingback: Ancient woodpecker keeps Nelson Mandela’s name alive | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Ringing Hadeda ibises of Cape Town, South Africa | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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