A young researcher at the UPLB Museum of Natural History has recently described a new species of cockroach while curating the museum's Blattodea collection.
Cristian Lucanas, University Research Associate I, reported in the latest issue of The Philippine Entomologist (Vol. 30, No. 1) that a species of Anaplecta, a genus of the Order Blattodea and previously not known from the country, was found among the MNH's numerous specimens after closer examination.
The discovery now extends the Pan-tropical distribution of the genus to Southeast Asia. The new cockroach named Anaplecta anncajanoae Lucañas, n. sp. is only one of the three possible new species that has been studied and mentioned in the paper.
"I also found two Anaplecta species which are yet to be fully described because of the absence of additional specimens," Lucanas said in an interview.
One of the possible new species is a lone specimen collected by National Scientist Clare Baltazar in Balinsasayao, Leyte in 1952. The second is another lone specimen collected in Mt. Apo, Davao City in 1956.
Most of the specimens that served as basis of the descriptions, including the holotype and paratypes, were collected in Mt. Makiling in 1947 by renowned entomologist and the first Filipino UP College of Agriculture Dean, Dr. Leopoldo B. Uichanco.
The discovery underscores the importance of natural history collections in the Philippines. Museum researchers are discovering many more novel insects by sifting through decades-old specimens than they do by surveying forests and remote areas.
The new species has been named after the MNH's Botanical Herbarium technician, the late Mary Ann O. Cajano who has immensely contributed to the taxonomy of Rafflesia and Hoya in the Philippines.