Heidi Hopkins is a cockroach taxonomic specialist at the University of New Mexico Museum of Southwestern Biology, in Albuquerque.

Taxonomic scientists study living things in order to understand how they are related to one another.

Several years ago, she began studying the taxonomy of a family of roaches known as Corydiidae.

The last time anyone studied this roach was in the 1920s, so she expected to find new species. However, the number of new species - 39 - surprised her. She said that figure is probably just the start.

"Quite honestly, I think there's many more to be found because large parts of its territory, which occur in Mexico have not been thoroughly surveyed," she said.

This family of roaches is endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Hopkins called these roaches extremophiles, because of their ability to live in some of the earth's harshest climates.

"There's one that lives 1,800-feet up, on Mount Everest. They are collected from deserts all over the world and the ones that I study here in the Southwest are no exception," she said.

When most people think of cockroaches, they picture domestics, which make up only one-tenth of 1 percent of the world's roach species. Hopkins said she studies the other 99.9 percent, and she referred to them "amazing creatures."

Hopkins said we can learn a lot from cockroaches. The Corydiidae family, for example, has the ability to collect water from the air, and to store it in bladders under the chin. The creature also has gyroscope-like extensions that allow it to know which way is up even when underground.

Entomologist and head of Insect Outreach Program argues cockroaches could make wonderful pets, and says fear of roaches is unfounded.

She visited the AZ Illustrated Science studio to explain why: