By Discovery News | May 18, 2015
It’s not every day that a new species is found in a major metropolis — by a class on a field trip.
But that’s what happened on a recent outing of Loyola Marymount University students at the very southernmost tip of the city of Los Angeles — less than a mile from the busiest port in America. The invertebrate zoology lab class was canvassing a rocky beach scanning for critters when they spotted an unusual pillbug clinging to a common sea star.
“As soon as we saw this bumpy little guy, we knew it was something special that the researchers at NHM had to see, but my class and I had no idea we were looking at a new species,” said Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Dean Pentcheff in a press release.
The new marine pillbug (known as isopod to biologists) belongs to the family of pillbugs that are commonly found in the dirt in backyards across the country. Despite their name, these creatures aren’t actually insects — but crustaceans adapted for land.
Pentcheff handed off their pillbug to experts at NHM for an identification. That’s when they learned the class had found a new species altogether. It was named Exosphaeroma pentcheffi — after the instructor who, with his class, found the new pillbug.
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