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Newly discovered orchid leers at you with its demon face

Peering at this rare orchid is like looking into the face of the devil, except with pretty petals all around.

This orchid is both pretty and demonic.

Marta Kolanowska

You're strolling through a tropical forest in southern Colombia. You see an unfamiliar orchid. You lean down and look closely at the flower and notice something staring right back at you.

The newly discovered orchid species telipogon diabolicus gets its eerie name from what looks like a tiny, leering devil's head at the heart of each flower. A close-up view reveals a spiky-headed face with protruding "horns" and a gaping mouth. It's the floral equivalent of seeing an ancient god on Mars.

The orchid resembles two other known species, but has enough differences to qualify it as its own species. Researchers published a study describing the find in the journal PhytoKeys earlier this month. Telipogon diabolicus isn't the only piece of flora and fauna with an unusual name. Earlier this year, scientists named a spider after Johnny Cash and a hairy beetle after Chewbacca.

Telipogon diabolicus could be just the tip of an uncharted orchid iceberg in Colombia. The study's authors note that "there is no doubt that hundreds of species occurring in this country remain undiscovered." Perhaps they will find one with an angel face and there will be an epic battle between orchid-good and orchid-evil.

(Via Boing Boing)