85 new species of jewel-like clown beetles discovered

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 13:12

Washington: Scientists have discovered 85 new species of rare jewel-like clown beetles, known for their brilliant colouring and bizarrely flattened body forms.

The new species in the genus Baconia are mainly from North and South America and were discovered through studies of numerous museum collections and fieldwork.

The colours of the genus Baconia range between blue, green and purple.

The new species bring the genus up to 116 total species.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys, Michael Caterino and Alexey Tishechkin of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in US described the new species.

"Although the genus Baconia was originally named in honour of Francis Bacon the Elizabethan philosopher, Francis Bacon the experimental artist would also be a fitting namesake for these fantastic beetles," said the study`s lead author Caterino.

While many groups of beetles are known for spectacular colour patterns, they are rare and little-appreciated in the clown beetle family, Histeridae.

"Even beetle specialists are amazed by the fantastic colors of Baconia," said Caterino.

"In natural history terms, the species of Baconia aren`t very different from several other groups of clown beetles with similar habits, but much duller coloration," Caterino said.

The species are mostly believed to stalk and eat wood-boring beetles and their larvae. Some are even drawn to pheromones of bark beetles, using their own seductive odours against them.

The flattened bodies of many of the species let them pursue their prey deep under the bark of recently killed trees.

Although more than 20 museums` collections were assembled for the study, nearly half the species are still known from only one or two specimens.

"While the study provides a wealth of new data on a neglected group of beetles, we know it`s still the tip of the iceberg," said Caterino.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 13:12

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