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This beetle was in a class all of its own

    Researchers from Shanghai Normal University have found a new beetle species — albeit by accident — at Shanghai Zoo.

    This particular species of rove beetle had never been recorded before, they announced yesterday.

    The finding was published in Zootaxa, an international journal for animal taxonomists, on March 6 and the beetle was formally named as “Batriscenel-lus xijiaogongyuan.”

    Xijiaogongyuan was the original name of Shanghai Zoo.

    The 2-millimeter-long rove beetle, shaped like an ant with two pairs of wings and three pairs of feet, was accidentally found during a project authorized by Shanghai Zoo in 2015 to survey and document the arthropod diversity within the zoo.

    A total of 273 species in 121 families and 14 orders were identified, but this was the first time researchers had found a new species, said Yin Ziwei, an associate professor and a member of the entomological lab at Shanghai Normal university.

    “It is one of the insects we’ve collected in summer last year from fallen leaves and branches in a forest at the zoo, which is so remote that tourists would not visit,” said Yin.

    It was rare to find a new species in highly populated Shanghai,” he added. “Only about 60 species classified in nine subfamilies of the diverse rove beetle family are currently known to occur in Shanghai. The last time a new rove beetle species was found was in 2011, Yin said.

    The new species belongs to the subfamily of ant-loving beetles of the Family Staphylinidae, according to Yin.

    The beetle is no longer alive — the average lifespan of rove beetles is about a month.