scientific discoveries

Team led by Filipino entomologist discovers new cockroach now named after a Pokémon

Russell Ku

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Team led by Filipino entomologist discovers new cockroach now named after a Pokémon

NEW SPECIES. A team of entomologists, which includes Filipino entomologist Cristian C. Lucanas, discovers a new cockroach species which was named after the Ultra Beast Pokémon Pheromosa.

Foo Maosheng's Facebook page

The study's lead author, UPLB Museum of Natural History's Cristian Lucañas, tells Rappler he hopes the discovery would help people see cockroaches in a new light

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not every day you see someone discovering a new wild Pokémon in real life.

A new cockroach species, named Nocticola pheromosa, was discovered at the Bukit Timah nature reserve in Singapore, as described on an article in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology on February 27. It was named after a Pokémon known as Pheromosa whose “design and color may have been inspired by the American cockroach that has molted,” the journal article said.

The discovery was made by a team led by Cristian C. Lucañas, an entomologist at the University of the Philippines Los Baños Museum of Natural History, and Singaporean entomologist Foo Maosheng.

Singaporean publication The Straits Times, in its report, said the specimens were collected in 2016 and 2017. Lucañas, who became the lead for the study, saw the specimens on The Biodiversity of Singapore website, contacted eventual co-author Foo, and dissected and studied the specimens.

Foo told the publication that he and Lucañas are both Pokémon fans, “so we thought, why not name it after a Pokemon inspired by a cockroach.” He compared himself to one of those bug-type trainers in the game, “that go to different places to find out more about what insects we have.”

Foo said they found similarities between the new species and the Pokémon such as “having a long antenna, wings that mimic a hood and long slender legs.”

Pheromosa is a bug and fighting type Pokémon that was introduced in 2017’s Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Its Pokédex entry describes it as “a life-form that lives in another world. Its body is thin and supple, but it also possesses great power.” 

Foo in a Facebook post also credited two other individuals: Sebastian Ow for support with molecular information, and Siti Maimon for specimen photography.

The discovery marks the first time that the cockroach genus Nocticola was discovered in Singapore, with it being the ninth known fully-winged species of the genus. The first known Nocticola species was discovered in the Philippines, with other species found in tropical Africa, India, Mainland and Southeast Asia, and Australia. 

Lucañas told Rappler that he is thrilled about the popularity of the new discovery, hoping that people would see cockroaches in a new light. 

“The discovery, like with the other species I described, is quite enjoying and fulfilling. Honestly though, I have been working with cockroaches since 2015, so the excitement has dwindled a bit, but again it is still fun,” he said. – 

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Russell Ku

Russell Ku is a digital communications specialist at Rappler who believes in the power of stories to build an empathic society.