Ampulex dementor, or the dementror wasp, is a vicious killer that lives in the Asian region of Greater Mekong. It preys on cockroaches quite a few times its size, that it paralyzes with its strong venom and then eats alive. And this is just one of the 139 new species discovered in this exotic region in 2014, according to the latest report from the World Wildlife Fund.
The dementor wasp got its name from the chillingly frightening characters from the Happy Potter books that had the capacity of stealing a people’s souls and making them live among their greatest fears.
The scientists from a natural history museum in Berlin decided to ask 300 of its visitors to name this newly found species, and “dementor” was the winner by far. It is a safe assumption that being eaten alive is on everybody’s list of greatest fears somewhere and so, it becomes understandable why they have made their choice.
Their other choices were not so iconic however as they included “plagiator”, because this wasp mimics the behavior of ants in order to deceive its prey, “bicolor”, because the insect has a red and black color pattern and “mon”, that was meant to bring homage to an ethnic group from the Greater Mekong region where the insect lives.
Judging by its killing method, Ampulex dementor definitely lives up to its newly attributed reputation. Its powerful sting inoculates a special type of venom that blocks a certain neurotransmitter in the cockroach’s body that renders it incapable of directing its body, but still able to feel and make some sort or movement even.
“Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it.”, further described the WWF report.
The rest of the 138 species from the Greater Mekong are nothing short of amazing themselves. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and physiological characteristics, as they include plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles and one very special mammal.
This particular mammal is a very special bat with very special sharp teeth, that he uses to chew through the rough shell of certain types of insects. Hypsugo dolichodon is its formal name, and it is known in the scientific community as the “long-toothed pipistrelle”.
Since that is not much of an improvement, it has become commonly known as the long-fanged bat. It lives in caves and forests from Vietnam and Laos, but further research needs to be conducted in order to fully understand the particularities of its life cycle and habitat.
Another wonderful species discovered in the Greater Mekong region is a remarkable representative of the stick insect family. Its name is Phryganistria heusii yentuensis and it has been declared the second longest insect in the whole world, measuring up to 58 centimeters.
Obviously, the Greater Mekong region hold many more mysteries than the ones that have already been uncovered and it represents an area with immense research potential, as it offers a tremendous pool of opportunity.
Unfortunately, there is a clock already ticking on this research, as this Asian region that includes countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos or Thailand, is already suffering greatly because of the effects of human activity. A wide variety of factors ranging from poaching to building dams are altering the normalcy of this region before it could get the chance of being uncovered in the depth it deserves.
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