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A new type of insect discovered in Swiss Alps

A previously unknown type of insect, thought to belong to the mosquito family, has been discovered in the Swiss Alps, nature experts told a news conference in Zurich on Thursday.

This content was published on August 24, 2000 - 17:34

The winged insect, around 1.8 millimetres in size, lives in and around dung. It was discovered on a field expedition near the Julier Pass in canton Graubünden.

It has not been given a name yet.

Two scientists working for the natural history museum in Neuchatel, Christoph Dufour and Jean-Paul Hänni, discovered that the insect belongs to the family of "Scatopsidae" and the sub-group "Rhexoza". They found that the insect was previously unknown.

The closest relations of the insect are its North American counterparts, according to Swiss wildlife experts.

The scientific coup happened during a large-scale entomological exercise in early June when 74 scientists succeeded in locating 2092 types of animals and plants in a 24-hour search near the Julier Pass.

In addition to the new find, a type of flea and snail never sighted in Switzerland, but which were presumed to be living there,were also found.

Jürg Paul Müller of the natural history museum in Chur said: "The 24-hour search produced an astounding number of animal and plant types - many more than we expected."

The organisers of the project, 20 natural history museums and the magazine "Geo", had expected around 1, 500 types to surface.

The numbers found near the Julier Pass, however, were typical of the kind of results yielded by a day's work in tropical rainforests, the scientists told Thursday's press conference.

by Greg Morsbach

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