If you've never heard of fairyflies you probably have never seen one either. But they do exist, and the researchers who discovered the newest fairyfly species have name the little creature after Tinkerbell, the famed sprite in the "Peter Pan" stories.
Specimens of the new species Tinkerbella nana were collected at the La Selva Biological Station, a lowland rainforest research and education facility in Costa Rica.
Fairyflies, technically known as mymaridae, are a type of wasp found worldwide. Almost all known species of fairyfly are parasitic, and farmers sometimes use them as a form of pest control. At about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen, the world's smallest known insect - the 0.006 inch Kikiki huna is a type of fairyfly.
At no more than 250 micrometers ( 0.009 inches) the Tinkerbella nana is a bit larger than its diminutive relative, but researchers are excited about continuing to find more new species of fairyfly.
"If something is physically possible in living things, some individuals of at least one species, extinct or extant, will likely have achieved it. So the lower size limit, by whatever measure of size is chosen, was almost certainly already evolved-somewhere, sometime. If we have not already found them, we must surely be close to discovering the smallest insects and other arthropods", said the lead author, John Huber from Natural Resources Canada, according to a press statement.
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