Finally we have proof that scientists are familiar with Peter Pan. In 2013, scientists discovered a tiny wasp in Costa Rica, and gave it the scientific name of Tinkerbella nana.
It was found in a tropical rainforest, and is a new addition to the many species of fairyflies, which are tiny wasps (this is for real!). The first part of the name refers to Tinkerbell, the fairy, and the second part to Nana the dog, both in Peter Pan.
The wasp is incredibly small, one of the smallest insects known. It is barely visible to the naked eye. This little wasp measures 250 micrometers long, which is about 2.5 times the width of a human hair. Little is known about this Tinkerbella, but almost all fairy-flies are parasites on the eggs and larvae of other small insects. This is a distinctively un-Tinkerbell behavior. Tinkerbella lays an egg on the host. The egg hatches and the larvae eats the host from the inside.
This delightfully named tiny wasp brings up a couple of points. One, that there are probably many more tiny species not yet known to science, possibly many thousands of them. And two, that entomology (the study of insects) may sound like a dreary subject, but entomologists have a sense of humor.
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