Year in Review: 2012

Taking notes in the jungle somewhere in southern Belize

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the entomologist takes field notes
[southern Belize, 2012, photo by Steve Taylor]

2012 was a busy and productive year in the lab. Here are some of the highlights.


Altogether we published five peer reviewed papers in 2012. Here’s a list with links to downloadable PDF files:

  • Heads, S.W. & Taylor, S.J. 2012. A new species of Ripipteryx from Belize with a key to the species of the Scrofulosa Group (Orthoptera, Ripipterygidae). ZooKeys 169: 1–8. [download PDF]
  • Rodríguez, F. & Heads, S.W. 2012. New mole crickets of the genus Scapteriscus Scudder (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae: Scapteriscinae) from Colombia. Zootaxa 3282: 61–68. [download PDF]
  • Hollier, J. & Heads, S.W. 2012. An annotated list of the Orthoptera (Insecta) species described by Henri de Saussure, with an account of the primary type material housed in the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Genève, Part 1: Tridactyloidea. Revue suisse de Zoology 119: 149–160. [download PDF]
  • Pérez-de la Fuente, R., Heads, S.W., Hinojosa-Díaz, I.A. & Engel, M.S. 2012. The first record of Protogryllinae from the Jurassic of India (Orthoptera: Grylloidea). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 85: 53–58. [download PDF]
  • Heads, S.W., Penney, D. & Green, D.I. 2012. A new species of the cricket genus Proanaxipha in Miocene amber from the Dominican Republic (Orthoptera, Gryllidae, Pentacentrinae). ZooKeys 229: 111–118. [download PDF]

New taxa

Four of the five above mentioned papers include descriptions of new taxa (five new species in total). Here’s a list with links to the relevant pages in OSF:

  • Ripipteryx mopana Heads & Taylor, 2012 (Orthoptera: Ripipterygidae); from Toledo District, Belize.
  • Scapteriscus cerberus Rodríguez & Heads, 2012 (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae); from Cundinamarca, Colombia.
  • Scapteriscus zeuneri Rodríguez & Heads, 2012 (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae); from Vichada, Colombia.
  • Protogryllus (Protogryllus) lakshmi Pérez-de la Fuente et al., 2012 (Orthoptera: Protogryllidae); fossil from the Middle Jurassic Kota Formation of India.
  • Proanaxipha madgesuttonae Heads & Penney, 2012 (Orthoptera: Gryllidae: Pentacentrinae); fossil from the Early Miocene amber of the Dominican Republic.

Illustrations from our paper describing Ripipteryx mopana from Belize: 1 frontal view of head capsule with antennae omitted (scale bar 0.5 mm); 2 lateral habitus (scale bar 2.0 mm) 3 dorsal view of terminalia with setae omitted for clarity (scale bar 0.25 mm); 4 ventral view of subgenital plate with setae omitted for clarity (scale bar 0.25 mm); 5 dorsal view of phallic complex (scale bar 0.25 mm).

In the news

Ripipteryx mopana was the subject of New to Nature No. 74, a column in The Observer written by Quentin Wheeler. It was dubbed the “cookies and cream insect” by Jeremy Hance of and was also covered by Channel 5 News in Belize. Here’s their brief video segment:


In April-May, I joined my friend and colleague Steve Taylor in Belize where, together with a team working under the auspices of the Subterranean Ecology Institute (SEI), we explored the caves and tropical forests of the Toledo District in search of weird and wonderful invertebrates. A brief account of the expedition can be found in the SEI 2012 Annual Report. The Orthoptera of Belize are chronically understudied and we collected lots of material during this trip. We’re still processing the samples, but have already identified a number of new taxa among the collections we made.

Foothills of the Maya Mountains of southern Belize as seen from the air [photo by Sam Heads, 2012]

Foothills of the Maya Mountains of southern Belize as seen from the air [photo by Sam Heads, 2012]

Steve and I have also been working together on a project for the USDA Forest Service studying invertebrates in caves of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. This project will span four years with fieldwork commencing in the 2012 field season. Other fieldwork included collecting and surveying grasshoppers and other orthopterans at sites throughout the state.

Journal of Orthoptera Research

2012 also saw me take over from my esteemed colleague Glenn Morris as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Orthoptera Research (JOR). Glenn, who has retired after over a decade at the helm, worked closely with me on issue 2 of volume 21 to help facilitate the handover and thanks to his tireless efforts, I have inherited an excellent journal with a strong group of Associate Editors. Indeed, myself and the rest of the editorial board are excited about the future of the JOR and have many plans for its growth and development.

The cover of JOR volume 21(2). Photographs are of female (top) and male (bottom) Cibotopteryx variegata (Romaleidae).

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About Sam Heads

Entomologist and paleontologist at the University of Illinois.
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One Response to Year in Review: 2012

  1. Kevin Heads says:

    You Have had a very productive year Sam…. Great reading as always

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