Semachrysa jade is a type of lacewing that was just recently discovered. It lives exclusively in Malaysia. So some poor graduate student had to spend a month sweltering in the jungles to find it, right?
Wrong! He looked on Flickr!
Shaun Winterton, an entomologist out of California, was flipping through photos of bugs on Flickr, like you do, when he came across one he hadn’t seen before. He got in touch with the photographer, Guek Hock Ping, to explain that, holy crap, dude, you found a new species.
One problem: Ping didn’t have an example of the bug in question on hand. Easily solved, though, since he had essentially taken the photo on a day trip from his house. The next time he was out, he bagged a specimen, handed it over to one of Winterton’s colleagues and, bam, new species.
What we love about this is that the Internet found a new species of bug and helped advance science. Usually it only finds new kinds of pornography and advances the death of our faith in humanity, so this is a nice change of pace.
photo courtesy, of course, Guek Hock Ping