Popular photo-sharing site Flickr has been one of the top photo storage and sharing sites for years now. But, helping a science discovery was unprecedented. According to a paper published in the journal ZooKeys, researchers have identified a previously unknown insect from a series of photos posted on Flickr.
One day in May of 2011, Dr. Shaun Winterton, a senior entomologist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was looking at pictures of bugs on the internet. Suddenly his eyes got stuck on a picture of bug posted in Flickr, seemingly unseen before. The insect seemed to be a Green Lacewing, but Dr. Winterton couldn’t say for sure. He knew this spices well, but found the network of black lines and a few flecks of blue on its wing to be unfamiliar. To be sure, he sent the image link to his few colleagues. But his colleagues also confirmed that they hadn’t seen this type of insect earlier. After the confirmation, Dr. Winterton firmly believed that this was a new type of insect.
Without any delay, Winterton emailed Guek Hock Ping. Guek Hock Ping (known as Kurt on Flickr) is the photographer who had noticed the insect while hiking the jungles of Malaysia, taken the photos of that insect and later posted the pictures of this unclassified Lacewing on Flickr. However, after getting the email, Ping again went to the region of the original sighting where he first saw the insect and captured images. This time, he found another Lacewing with the same wing pattern and picked it up, and brought it with him to his home.