Down by the Liwagu river a flash of bright blue light attracts the eye. A little damselfly makes its way across the clear water of the mountain stream with a few more flashes of blue iridescence.
On the other side of the stream, the damselfly perches on a rock, overlooking the spot where a submerged female is laying eggs. The bright blue on the wing of the damselfly extends right to the base of the wing: this is Euphea basalis, an endemic damselfly of mount Kinabalu.
Stalk eyed fly
Following the Liwagu trail, we head for the Timpohon gate. Just below the gate, where the trail along the river turns away from the river and continues up a steep slope, is a spot where we can find another endemic invertebrate. Invertebrates are a group of animals including spiders, millipedes, crustaceans and, in the case of this fly, the insects. The endemic fly found around the patches of wild gingers just below the Timpohon gate, belongs to the family of stalk-eyed flies. It can be found walking up and down on leaves next to the path, often tapping the leaf with its front legs as it goes.
This family is well known for the lateral extensions on the head, on which the eyes are placed. This species of Teleopsis has so far only been recorded from areas between 1500 m and 1900 m on Mt. Kinabalu and the Crocker Range, an altitude at which only two species of stalk-eyed flies have been found on the otherwise species rich island of Borneo for this group. This species of Teleopsis, which is currently being described as new to science, diverged from lower montane ancestors between 5.5 and 11.4 million years ago.
Myrmarachne mariaelenae (Photo: Peter Koomen)