Observation of the Week, 11/17/16

This Sternotomis bohemani beetle, seen in Tanzania by @joachim, is our Observation of the Week!

When most people think of Africa, they’re picturing the charismatic megafauna - lions, giraffes, lions hunting giraffes (can’t wait to see Planet Earth II!), wildebeests and the like. Joachim Louis and his wife Annette, however, prepared for a seven month safari by taking a four week course covering “the plants and smaller animals that are not in the main focus of tourists coming to Africa.”

With an eye for these less heralded yet equally stunning fauna, Joachim has provided iNat with some great observations, like this Long-winged Kite spider dining on an insect. He found the above Sternotomis bohemani beetle while “hiking with a group in a river valley near Matema. One of the group [accidentally] kicked it with his foot and it landed with the dorsum up...it was dead before, but with the abdomen up it was invisible between the leaves. So it was a lot of luck.”

Beetles are an evolutionary wonder. Their basic design (hard shell and a pair of hard front wings called elytra) have been adapted to a multitude of habitats, food sources, and behaviors. About 400,000 beetle species have been described, making up 25% of all known species on earth! Ranging throughout tropical and southern Africa, Sternotomis bohemani belongs to the Cerambycidae family, known commonly as the Long-horned beetles, as many sport quite lengthy antennae. One member of the family is the titan beetle, which is like the longest insect in the world, it’s body length reaching 6.6 in (16.7 cm)!

“My main focus changes from year to year,” says Joachim. “Last year it was primates this year i tried to get all the flowering plants that we saw. Insects, spiders, reptiles, birds and amphibians are always on the list. The problems of conservation, which means the problems of farmers in the remote areas with wildlife keep me busy all the time.”

He and Annette are hoping to get others interested in Africa “and to show them also the small things that are always around when you are on a camping safari.” He came across iNaturalist as he wanted help with identifying many of these smaller species, and “to share my pictures with more people that are also interested in these beauties. It is a good side effect that all observations can help scientists to get better data about distribution of species.”

- by Tony Iwane

- Check out Joachim and Annette’s website, Africa Wildtours

- Right now iNat has verifiable observations of 5,934 beetle species - about 1.5% of all known beetle species. Here are the most popular beetle observations on iNat. Let the diversity wash over you.

- David Attenborough holds a Titan beetle.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 17, 2016 15:22



I so enjoy these. Another wonderful write-up, Tony.

Also, special note to thank @borisb for all of the beetle ID's he has been providing for folks on iNat.

Posted by sambiology over 3 years ago (Flag)

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