Flickr/Dr. Arthur Anker
A Venezuelan poodle moth is mystifying researchers, baffling the internet, and confusing everyone at a first casual glance. The insect, seemingly a blend of a large moth and a bright, fluffy white poodle, was discovered in 2009 and may be a new species.
The Venezuelan poodle moth was first captured on film by Dr. Arthur Anker of Bishkek, Krgyzstan, who posted all 75 photographs of his time at the Gran Sabana National Park on Flickr. His trip to the Venezuelan park didn't gain much fame at the time, however, until last week, when someone noticed and posted the picture online.
Another researcher, Dr. Karl Shuker, took an interest in the fuzzy white creature with bulging black eyes and strange brown antennae. He used his background in zoology, cryptozoology, and science writing to showcase the animal on his blog among other amazing finds.
"These photographs formed just one set of numerous spectacular images that Art has taken while visiting tropical rainforests and other exotic locations worldwide, and which he has placed in photosets on the Flickr website," he wrote on his blog ShukerNature.
One of Shuker's colleagues speculated that the Venezuelan poodle moth bears some small resemblance to Diaphora mendica- the muslin moth of the leptidopteran family Arctiidae. Although it does have some of the same fuzzy parts, its antennae, coloring, and front legs are much different. In addition, the muslin moth is common to the U.K. and Russian Palearctic- they would never be as far south as Venezuela.
It could be that the muslin moth and the Venezuelan poodle moth are related- especially with only 6,000 of the estimated 11,000 in the Arctiidae family. Shuker thinks a new species may have been discovered.
"Could it even be a species still undescribed by science?" the crptozoologist wrote on his blog. "Thousands of new insects are discovered every year in the South American rain forests, so it would be by no means unusual if Art's Venezuelan poodle moth proved to be one, too."