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Unusual, rare scarab beetle

 
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Eric F



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 246
Location: Sacramento, Calif.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:17 pm    Post subject: Unusual, rare scarab beetle Reply with quote

This is Attavicinus monstrosus, a very uncommon scarab beetle known from a small geographical area near Guadalajara, Mexico. These beetles live only in the nests of the leaf-cutting ant Atta mexicana, where they probably feed on detritus, as well as the fungus that the Atta ants cultivate as their own food. This is a male beetle, 23mm long. [Canon EOS 40D, EF-S 60mm, 39 images @ 0.5mm, ZS]

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sonyalpha



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 916
Location: Middle England

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a weird beastie........it looks just like something from Star-Wars:

You have recorded wonderful detail here:

sonyalpha
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 19392
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a wonderful beetle!

At this size, I am getting the impression of slight streakiness on the animal's front and rear. It looks almost like motion blur but seems more likely to be something related to either the angle of the hairs or to some sort of stacking artifact, perhaps due to changes in lens position while shooting. Is the full size image clean, or does it show some streakiness also?

--Rik
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Eric F



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 246
Location: Sacramento, Calif.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks sonyalpha & Rik. This is truly a marvelous beetle -- so unique that the genus Attavicinus was described just a few years ago to contain this single species, monstrosus. For many decades, the beetle was included in a fairly large genus called Liatongus; originally, 120 years ago, it was described as an Oniticellus -- by Henry Walter Bates (the famous naturalist who explored the Amazon).

Rik -- the bands I believe you refer to are caused by dense hairs seen on edge, as the front of the prothorax of monstrosus (above the front legs) is massive and mostly vertical (about 1.5 X as broad as the abdomen). The fringe of long hairs at the summit of the vertical lobes on the prothorax are possibly trichomes (hairs associated with glands that secrete chemicals that are attractive to ants -- which many myrmecophilous [ant-loving] beetles have).
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, thanks for the additional information. I'm not sure that you and I are talking about the same areas, but it's a subtle thing and I'll happily settle for knowing that the image looks clean at actual pixels. I think the first area that caught my attention was near the elytra ends, say at Photoshop coordinates x=582,y=180. Other areas are on top of the head at 91,320; on the top of the prothorax at 189,257; and on the leading edge of the prothorax lobe at 192,201.

--Rik
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Eric F



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 246
Location: Sacramento, Calif.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik, thanks for the coordinates. Looking at my large images, I believe those areas are clear of streaks and artifacts. For example, what looks to be a misalignment of the elytral seam (above the mid tarsus that overlaps the elytron) is actually a region where the hairs on the elytron are abruptly longer and denser. I think the apparent streaks are natural variations in hair structure.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great to hear.

BTW, what did you use for a background on this beast? He seems to be flying unsupported over a sea of lightforms.

--Rik
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Eric F



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 246
Location: Sacramento, Calif.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's on an insect pin -- which has been cloned away (I collected this specimen about 20 years ago). It is suspended above a magazine photo of an avocado & peach salad!

Eric
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric F wrote:
It is suspended above a magazine photo of an avocado & peach salad!

Why do I have the feeling I just heard a memorable quote?? Laughing

You have good eyes, my friend!

--Rik
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing insect, beautifully photographed!
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Eric F



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
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Location: Sacramento, Calif.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles -- thanks very much!

Eric
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AndrewC



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smile
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Craig Gerard



Joined: 01 May 2010
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Eric,

Reminds of Dr Who zooming through time and space with that background. I can almost hear the theme music Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mxHe8T_QVA&feature=related

Craig
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seta666



Joined: 19 Mar 2010
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Location: Castellon, Spain

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An amaizing picture, I loved the idea of using a magazine as background, very clever and suits it very well
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