Experts identified a plant pictured on Facebook as a new species, since named as “drosera magnifica“, or magnificent sundew, according journal research paper
The new species named 'drosera magnifica'Photo: Facebook
By Melanie Hall, Berlin
2:15PM BST 25 Jul 2015
A new plant species has been hailed as the first to be "discovered over Facebook" after a photo posted by an amateur researcher was spotted by scientists on the social media network.
The huge carnivorous plant, which can grow up to one-and-a-half metres in length, was identified by researchers after a photo of it was uploaded by a botanical enthusiast in Brazil, the Botanical State Collection in Munich,Germany, announced on Friday.
Amateur researcher Reginaldo Vasconcelos first photographed the sundew plant in a jungle on a mountain top in Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil, in 2013, and posted it on his Facebook page.
Andreas Fleischmann from the Botanical State Collection of Munich, co-author of the research paper, said: “It is the first plant that was discovered on Facebook.
"It is the largest sundew in the Americas, and the second-largest carnivorous plant in the Americas. In this respect it is also a spectacular plant.”
The plant has a Medusa-like tangle of sticky, carnivorous leaves that can grow up to 24cm in length and ensnare insects the size of a dragonfly.
Internet-based image databases have become an "important tool" for plant enthusiasts and botanists to share their interest and knowledge, according to the authors.
“Photographs are publicly shared on Internet discussion groups hosted by social networks, forums, and other websites, uniting amateurs and professionals in their common interests of plant identification and taxonomy, frequently resulting in the discovery of new regional records,” they wrote.
In the majority of cases, photos taken by amateurs are mostly useful in terms of providing location data that would lead to further fieldwork by experts, according to the researchers, but they added that images by enthusiasts have led to new discoveries such as that of the green lacewing insect.
The discovery of the magnificent sundew, however, is “the first plant species to be recorded as being discovered through photographs on a social network," they wrote.
The scientists were amazed that the large and eye-catching plant species had remained undiscovered for so long, because the mountain on which it was found was easily accessible.
However, the species, which is only found on a single mountain peak, is already considered “critically endangered”.
The mountain is surrounded by cattle ranches and coffee and eucalyptus plantations and almost all of the forest cover has already been cleared.