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‘Unusual’ creature — with ultrasonic song — escapes its cage. It’s a new species

In World
April 15, 2024

In a meadow in Argentina, an “unusual” creature called into the darkness. The small animal’s song wasn’t audible to humans, but it still caught the attention of visiting scientists.

Lucas Rubio spotted the unfamiliar-looking cricket in a meadow in Buenos Aires Province in 2023 and captured it, according to a study published April 11 in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa.

While researchers were still studying the “unusual” insect, it escaped its cage and vanished at a team member’s apartment, the study said.

The setback was temporary.

Researchers found two more similar-looking insects in February 2024 and were finally able to confirm their suspicions. They’d discovered a new species: Conocephalus tuyu, or the Tuyú meadow katydid.

Katydids, sometimes referred to as bush crickets, are closely related to crickets and grasshoppers.

A Conocephalus tuyu, or the Tuyú meadow katydid, perched on some plants. Photo from Lucas Rubio via iNaturalist

A Conocephalus tuyu, or the Tuyú meadow katydid, perched on some plants. Photo from Lucas Rubio via iNaturalist


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Tuyú meadow katydids are “very small,” their bodies measure about half an inch in length, the study said. They are “mostly green” with a “reddish brown” stripe down their backs.

Photos shared by Rubio on the citizen science platform iNaturalist show the new species. The insect has protruding pink eyes and appears to blend in well with its surroundings.

Tuyú meadow katydids have ultrasonic calling songs that are not audible to humans, the study said. These nighttime songs can last several minutes and occur at an “extraordinarily” broad range of ultrasound frequencies.

A Conocephalus tuyu, or the Tuyú meadow katydid, blends in with its surroundings. Photo from Lucas Rubio via iNaturalist

A Conocephalus tuyu, or the Tuyú meadow katydid, blends in with its surroundings. Photo from Lucas Rubio via iNaturalist

Researchers described the new species as elusive and “inconspicuous.” They found it in “meadows and grassland in or close to sand dunes alongside the beaches of the Atlantic coast” of Argentina.

The new species was named after the Tuyú region where it was discovered and, so far, the only area where it has been found, the study said.

The Tuyú region is in Buenos Aires Province and a roughly 300-mile drive southeast of Buenos Aires.

The new species was identified by its coloring, body shape, song, genitalia and other subtle physical features, the study said. Researchers did not provide a DNA analysis of the new species.

The research team included Lucas Rubio and Holger Braun.

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