A new species of pseudoscorpion found in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region has been named Synsphyronus christopherdarwini in honour of the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.
Western Australian Museum Head of Terrestrial Zoology, Dr Mark Harvey led the arachnid-focused team that discovered the new species.
“The pseudoscorpion was found during a Bush Blitz expedition to Bush Heritage Australia’s Charles Darwin Reserve, 355km north-east of Perth, which documented plant and animal species” Dr Harvey said.
“The pseudoscorpion was brought back to the WA Museum where the species was determined unique, characterised by the distinctive size and shape of its pedipalps or claws at the front of the body.”
Dr Harvey said Chris Darwin, who also took part in the expedition, was the obvious choice when naming the new species.
“Chris has made a huge personal and financial commitment to the conservation of Australia's biodiversity – in 2003, he and his wife Jacqui made the donation that allowed Bush Heritage to purchase the Charles Darwin Reserve,” Dr Harvey said.
“If it wasn't for people like him, properties like the Reserve wouldn't be maintained for conservation, and the environments of species like this one wouldn’t be protected.”
Chris, a nature guide from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and Ambassador for Bush Heritage Australia, said he was extremely surprised and humbled when Dr Harvey told him about the naming.
“I could have sworn Mark said 'christopherdarwini', but it did not compute,” Mr Darwin said.
“My wife told me my face was blank for a couple of seconds, before a big smile of comprehension spread across it.
“Put simply, the moment we found the species was one I will never forget, and the picture of this small animal living under rocks miles from anywhere in WA will always be on my wall.”
The latest issue of the Records of the Western Australian Museum (volume 27, part 1) describing the Synsphyronus christopherdarwini is available free of charge from the Museum website: museum.wa.gov.au/research/records-supplements/records.
Bush Blitz is a multimillion dollar biodiversity discovery partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia to survey selected properties across Australia’s National Reserve System.
- Pseudoscorpions resemble tiny scorpions but lack the long tail and sting of their cousins
- Charles Darwin Reserve is a 686 km² nature reserve 355km north east of Perth, on the edge of WA’s Avon Valley wheat belt.
- The Bush Blitz at Charles Darwin Reserve was carried out by scientists, members of Bush Blitz, BHP Billiton volunteers and donors to Bush Heritage in May 2009.
- More information on the Bush Blitz program is available at http://www.bushblitz.org.au/. Bush Blitz is administered by the Australian Government, and includes BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Institute Australia as partners.