New Beetle Genus and Species Discovered in Brazilian Amazon

Posted on January 23, 2014

Morphogenia struhli

A new genus and species of the Neotropical pselaphine tribe Jubini has been described from Manaus, Brazil. Dr. Joseph Parker, a UK biologist based in New York at Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History, named the genus Morphogenia after "morphogens," - a type of signaling molecule that functions during animal development. Dr. Parker discovered the new beetles while examining specimens in the Coleoptera (beetle) collection at the Natural History Museum, London.

The beetles measure only 3 mm in length. The male has large eyes with over one hundred eye facets, but the female eyes have just 12 facets. The male has large flight wings, while the females lack wings. A male Morphogenia struhli is pictured above. The beetles belong to a massive group of tiny rove beetles called Pselaphinae.

Dr. Parker is a Pselaphinae specialist. He says, "We know of more than 9,000 species of these beetles - that's about as many species as there are birds. The big differences are that only about six or seven people worldwide work on these beetles, and unlike birds, many thousands more of these beetles await discovery, and unfortunately almost nothing is known about their ecology."

Dr. Parker also says, "With so few people working on groups of organisms like this, it's hard to know what role they play in nature. The fact there's so many species, and they're so abundant, suggests they're doing something important."

The research was published here in the journal ZooKeys.

Photo: Dr. Joseph Parker

More from Science Space & Robots