Los Angeles isn’t just filled with filthy rich celebrities and sad Lakers fans. No, there are other pesky city dwellers buzzing about Sunset Boulevard — 30 new species of flies discovered by scientists.
Members of the Phoridae family, they were found by the folks at BioSCAN — a three-year project spearheaded by the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles and local “citizen scientists.” Emily Hartop, the museum’s assistant collections manager for entomology, closely examined more than 35,000 fly samples collected from various parts of the city.
So how she was able to properly identify each fly’s species? Well, let’s cue up the guitar and the wah wah pedal:
Most of the time her microscope was aimed at the flies’ genitalia, which is the easiest way to tell the different species apart.
“I’m going to say 90% of our identification work focuses on these for flies,” she wrote in a blog post, “we are obsessed with fly genitalia…”
Who knew your private parts would get you noticed in Hollywood? Seriously though, as annoying as flies are, they serve an important role in any ecosystem. Many eat feces and fungi. As one fly expert pointed out, “There is even a species known as the coffin fly that can burrow several feet into the dirt to lay their eggs in a corpse.” Lovely!