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Researchers find unique fore wing folding among Sub-Saharan African Ensign wasps

e a diagnosis that describes how this species differs from others.

"In most cases, the diagnosis lists certain phenotypic aspects of the wasps, such as having a black head or fuzzy hind legs," he said. "Diagnoses are typically written in natural language and using one's own custom lexicon. There is no standard syntax to describe the way an organism looks, which makes these data difficult to extract in any large-scale way."

To get around this problem, the researchers developed a technique that provides broadly accessible descriptions.

"The gist is that one could actually query across existing anatomy data using computers," he said. "For example, one could search for all the species that have fuzzy heads, or all the species that have a patch of hairs on the ventral surfaces of their abdomens. One could then cross-reference the result with information about the surrounding environment, the cockroach host, or the evolutionary history of the wasp. The more we test and refine this approach the better we'll understand its capabilities and utility."

In addition to photographing the wasps' wings, the team used principles of origami paper folding to physically visualize the transverse folding of the wings.

"We used origami, one of the most ancient and simple art forms to understand the wing folding, which, based on our observations through microscopes was otherwise impossible to understand," said Istvn Mik, research associate in entomology. "In our paper, we included a print, cut and fold template for the readers that helps them and us to comprehend the simple, yet enigmatic, wing fold system of the new tribe,"

According to Mik, insect wings are common subjects of researchers who investigate bio-inspired technologies.

"The relatively simple wing-folding mechanism of the new tribe can be utilized in advance technologies, such as applying morphing systems in aerospace vehicle research or expandable structural systems

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

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