Young scientists have discovered a new beetle at RSPB Saltholme, never before seen on the nature reserve.
During a school trip to the wildlife reserve and discovery park, near Stockton-on-Tees, students from Chandlers Ridge Academy in Nunthorpe and South Kilvington CE School in Thirsk, found two beetles as part of their pond dipping activity.
Staff at RSPB Saltholme were stumped as to what the mini-beasts could be and sent photographs of the beetles to the RSPB reserves ecologist for help. The creatures have since been identified as Macroplea appendiculata - something rarely encountered.
The beetles have been named Chandler and Kilvy in honour of the schools involved in their discovery.
Ed Pritchard, RSPB Saltholme's warden, said: "Finding a new species on site is always exciting, but for a school to uncover something new is extra special for the reserve. It just goes to show that you don't have to be an expert to see something special here at Saltholme. We want everyone to come and have a go at pond dipping - who knows, they might uncover a new species too."
Dave Braithwaite, Saltholme Site Manager, said: "This discovery has caused great interest in the entomological world, as it is one of Britain's rarest species. In fact, it is so rare it took us quite a while to determine the exact species."
Pond dipping is available every day until 31 October for all the family. Equipment is available to hire from the reserve and is free for RSPB members, £2 per family for non-members.