Lost and found: New beetle collected by Darwin 180 years ago published on his birthday

Feb 12, 2014
This image shows the newly described species Darwinilus sedarisi. Credit: Natural History Museum (London)

In 1832 Charles Darwin disembarked from HMS Beagle in Bahia Blanca, Argentina where he travelled by land to Buenos Aires. In Bahia Blanca, Darwin collected several fossils of large mammals along with many other living organisms, including several insects. More than 180 years later on Darwin's birthday, February 12, scientists name after him a long lost but new to science beetle genus and species from this collection.

The beetle was discovered and described by Dr. Stylianos Chatzimanolis, an entomologist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA as a new genus and species of rove beetles, a group of insects with more than 57,000 described species. The scientific name for the new species is Darwinilus sedarisi. The name (Darwinilus) was given in honor of Charles Darwin, while the epithet (sedarisi) was given in honor of Mr David Sedaris, a USA writer. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The specimen collected by Darwin was considered lost for many years at the Natural History of Museum, London, until it was rediscovered in 2008. 'I received on loan several from the Museum in London, and to my surprise I realized that one of them was collected by Darwin' said Dr. Chatzimanolis. 'Finding a new species is always exciting, finding one collected by Darwin is truly amazing'.

Only two specimens are known for this , both collected before 1935. Despite extensive work by Dr. Chatzimanolis in many major European and N. American museums no other specimens have been found. Most of the habitat where the species is found has been transformed into agricultural fields. 'One certainly hopes that a newly described is not already extinct'.

This image shows a close up of Darwinilus sedarisi, showing the beautiful coloration of the species. Credit: Natural History Museum (London)


Explore further: Natural History Museum, London, yields remarkable new beetle specimens from Brazil

More information: Chatzimanolis S (2014) Darwin's legacy to rove beetles (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae): A new genus and a new species, including materials collected on the Beagle's voyage. ZooKeys 379: 29-41. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.379.6624

Related Stories

The last croak for Darwin's frog

Nov 20, 2013

Deadly amphibian disease chytridiomycosis has caused the extinction of Darwin's frogs, believe scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB), Chile.

Researchers revise Darwin's thinking on invasive species

Dec 02, 2013

For more than a century and a half, researchers interested in invasive species have looked to Charles Darwin and what has come to be called his "naturalization conundrum." If an invader is closely related to species in a ...

School kids name new reef fish

Feb 11, 2014

Primary school children in Sydney have named a newly identified species of reef fish, recently described by a University of Sydney ichthyologist.

Recommended for you

Scanning robot helps put insect collection online

1 hour ago

A robot capable of scanning a tray of insect specimens in a few minutes will help make the virtual images and tagging information available to the public online, according to South Dakota State University ...

New mushroom discovered on campus is the first since 1985

2 hours ago

Two researchers who recently named the first new species of mushroom from the UC Berkeley campus in more than 30 years are emphasizing the need for continued green and open space on campus, as well as a full-fledged ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.