It looks like a cross between a miniature gargoyle and a Furby, but this Venezuelan poodle moth is the real thing.
The furry moth has become an internet sensation recently, though the picture circling the internet was taken in 2009 at Canaima National Park. The fantastical insect was spotted by Dr. Arthur Anker, a zoologist from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, who snapped the photo on a trip to Venezuela that winter. Though he has since inquired with other zoologists hoping to identify the creature, no one has yet been able to even name its genus.
Some individuals have claimed the poodle moth appears to be the muslin moth Diaphora mendica, though simply looking at the two insects side by side shows D. mendica looks quite different than the poodle moth. Though the species could be related, the habitats are quite different with D. mendica living in places as far north as the UK. It is most likely the two share the same family, Arctiidae, of which there are an estimated 11,000 species around the world, and 6,000 known in the neotropical region. Still, with such little knowledge of the poodle moth, it is quite possible that yet another new species was found via Flickr.
“Could it even be a species still undescribed by science?” cryptozoologist Karl Shuker 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.”
Featured photo credit: Arthur Anker/Flickr