By ROB WAUGH
Kimsey believes that the wasp's huge jaws could be used in defence and for mating, allowing a male to hold a female in position
A new species of wasp discovered on the Indonesian island Sulawesi is two-and-a-half inches long, and has jaws so vast that its discoverer admits, 'I don't know how it can walk.'
Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, says ‘Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male’s front legs.'
Kimsey discovered the warrior wasp on the Mekongga Mountains in southeastern Sulawesi.
She says its enormous size and ferocity makes it like 'the Komodo Dragon of wasps'.
‘I’m going to name it Garuda, after the national symbol of Indonesia,’ Kimsey said.
The male wasp has such enormous jaws that its discoverer admits, 'I don't know how it can walk'
Garuda - known as 'King of Birds' - is a powerful mythical warrior that’s part human and part eagle, boasts a large wingspan, martial prowess and breakneck speed.
‘The first time I saw the wasp I knew it was something really unusual,’ said Kimsey.
‘I had never seen anything like this species of Dalara. We don’t know anything about the biology of these wasps. They are only known from southwestern Sulawesi.’
'The large jaws probably play a role in defense and reproduction,' she said.
‘In another species in the genus the males hang out in the nest entrance. This serves to protect the nest from parasites and nest robbing, and for this he exacts payment from the female by mating with her every time she returns to the nest. So it's a way of guaranteeing paternity. Additionally, the jaws are big enough to wrap around the female;s thorax and hold her during mating.’