Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Garuda Warrior Wasp

New Scientist reports: [edited]

If someone had made a horror movie about alien wasps and hired H.R. Giger to do the designs, the resulting monsters might have looked something like this. But this 'warrior wasp' is real: it lives on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, and it is 4 centimetres long.

Its mandibles are so large that they cross over to the other side of the head when closed - they're longer, in fact, than the wasp's front legs making it difficult to understand how they are able to walk.

Lynn Kimsey of the University of California, Davis discovered the mighty insect during a recent expedition to the Mekongga Mountains of Sulawesi. She plans to name it "Garuda", after a mythic figure who was part-human, part-eagle.

These are not biggest wasps in the world. That accolade goes to the tarantula hawk, which regularly clock in at over 6 centimetres, and - as the name suggests - hunt tarantulas.

Image: Kathy Keatley Garvey

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