New butterfly species discovered in Andes mountains


This video from the USA says about itself:

Different species of pretty butterflies that visited my garden this past summer.

Background music, Seals & Crofts, “Summer Breeze” and America, “Horse with no name”.

From British daily The Independent:

New species of butterfly discovered by Andes expedition

By Amol Rajan

Published: 20 December 2007

A team of explorers led by scientists from the Natural History Museum in London has discovered an entirely new species of butterfly in South America.

The medium-sized, coffee-coloured insect with eyespots on its hind wings was discovered during the first manned exploration of a remote section on the northern tip of the Andes mountain range.

Idioneurula donegani was hailed as “an amazing discovery” by Blanca Huertas, the butterfly curator at the Natural History Museum, who led the expedition to the peaks of Colombia’s Serrania de los Yariguies range.

“Discovery of unseen species of insect are more common than with many other types of animal,” she said. “But for any biologist it’s exhilarating to find an entirely new species – especially one that survives in environments where you wouldn’t expect to find them.”

Speaking to The Independent yesterday, Ms Huertes refused to be drawn on whether another apparently new species of insect her team discovered on the expedition was also a butterfly. “Further tests have to be carried out before we can be certain that we have another species of insect as well,” she said. “But I’m hopeful.” If, following examination, the second specimen is also found to constitute an entirely new species of butterfly, the twin find will signal a major breakthrough in scientific understanding of the winged creatures worldwide.

“What’s so fabulous about this discovery is that we would never have imagined butterflies could survive at this sort of altitude,” said Ms Huertes. “Obviously when you enter unseen areas you have hopes of making exciting discoveries, but this surpasses our expectations. It means butterflies can be far more resilient and adaptable than we might have previously thought.”

Although the terrain is filled with ferns, orchids and palms, it was thought to be highly unlikely that butterflies could thrive that far above sea-level.

There are more than 20,000 known species of butterfly, 40 per cent of which live in South America. The most recent discovery is not found anywhere else in the world. …

“Butterflies and other insects have been in great danger throughout the continent,” said Ms Huertes. “The cattle and crop farming that’s been driving South America’s agricultural growth has also been threatening to drive some species off the map.”

Last year, the same Anglo-Colombian team, also led by Ms Huertes, was responsible for the discovery of the Yariguies brush finch, a fist-sized, multi-coloured bird named after the Indian tribe that once inhabited that area.

See also here.

Critically Endangered Yellow-eared Parakeet in major breeding success in Colombia: here.

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