A New Brunswick entomologist claims he has discovered a new species of beetle that could help scientists around the world with their research.
Reginald Webster says he found two female specimens of the small black elongated beetle in Fredericton's Odell Park.
"It's probably been here for, you know, since the last ice age, or longer," said Webster.
But he says it's the first time scientists have seen this type of beetle, which he named Mniusa Odelli, after the downtown park.
"The differences … from other species have to do with the shape of the male and female sex organs, genitalia and some other structural things," said Webster, who spends countless hours with his team collecting insect samples in traps and then studying them in his basement, dubbed the bug cave.
They recently published a report on their discovery on the website Species-ID.
"I think it's important, I mean, it kind of tells the research community and people that we have a lot to learn," said Webster.
Other researchers will now use the report as a guide to try to determine if the Mniusa Odelli lives anywhere else in the world, he said.
"Now that we know how to identify it, people can do additional research and find the habitat. We can get more information on the biology," said Webster.
"Some of these small species may be actually quite abundant, but they live in habitats that we're not normally sampling and their impact may be more than we thought," he said, noting two male beetles found in Nova Scotia and Quebec were tentatively identified as the same species, but the specimens were in poor condition and not suitable enough to be studied fully.
Webster is now searching for a "good" male specimen "to determine if those specimens are the same species.
"Once we know that, we can say it's more widespread," he said.