The giant bee wasn’t “lost to science”. No one got grants to go study or monitor their populations for >20 years because no one would find it. That’s the real story here. We are constantly undervaluing and underobserving basic natural history about small creatures like bees.
In the light of everyone reblogging about the rediscovery of the Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) no one is acknowledging (besides us zoologists) the fact that this has already happened with this bee. It was thought lost since 1859 until it was rediscovered in 1981 and now 2019. This is because of lack of funding going towards conversing and discovering insects like this bee!
This is the important missing part of the story!!!!!
I face the same challenge in my work to study and protect frogs.
If you search a list of “critically endangered invertebrates” at least a third of them are listed as “possibly extinct”.
POSSIBLY. Because no one has the funding to even got and check if they still exist. That’s where we are at with invert conservation.
this is why i hate pandas
Hell, this is where we’re at WITH BIRDS.
I have some tiny bug friends on iNat who have been valiantly going through all the unidentified tiny bug photos and trying to identify them (and I mean, true valor). One of them will comment on some random photo of a thing I snapped with my phone in my yard two years ago before I knew what I was doing “Oh hey THIS IS A RARE BLAH DE BLAH” and I’m just like, oh yeah I just randomly found it in my yard I probably have hundreds of those.
Sometimes, I will find a bug, identify the bug, upload the bug to iNat, and iNat will helpfully tell me, OH YEAH THIS IS CRITICALLY ENDANGERED IN TEXAS. Like, one of the spittlebugs I find sometimes in the fields might go extinct because THE FIELDS KEEP GETTING DESTROYED.
Another aspect of this story that isn’t getting told: a lot of the natural sciences are no longer even teaching natural history and organisms the way they used to. Taxonomy is all about genetics these days. Museums are switching over to hiring… people who can’t identify specimens without running PCR??? Like, they cannot look at an animal and tell you what it is unless they analyze cellular tissue. So universities aren’t teaching the “old way” anymore? So, nobody tries to get grants and study ecology because all people care about is genetics and blah blah who cares???
Both are important, but the funding institutions clearly do not agree. And the way science is funded these days, people HAVE to go for what they know will get them money to do the work they know is important. Just add a little bit of genetics to get some money to do the ecology work, right? But over twenty, thirty years… ecology work doesn’t get funding anymore.
Anyway, don’t listen to me, I picked engineering and I still can’t find a job. I’ll just be muttering to myself in this ditch over here collecting microscopic hemiptera and getting gnats in my eyes.
February 23, 2019