Fig 1 A: Onymacris unguicularis, B: O. laeviceps, C: Stenocara gracilipes, and D: Physterna cribripes (from Norgaard and Dacke 2010)
Elytra Structures Fig 2 A: O. unguicularis, B: O. laeviceps, C: S. gracilipes, and D: P. cribripes (from Norgaard and Dacke 2010)
Fig 4 Fog basking posture of Onymacris unguicularis (from Norgaard and Dacke 2010)
The Namib desert is inhabited by a number of fantastic organisms that have adaptations for desert life. In particular, there are a few tenebrionids or Darkling beetles which call this locale their home. Beetles in the desert need to collect water and while some dig trenches others bask in the fog.
Most beetles have smooth elytra, but ones that bask in fog are covered in raised bumps and are also hydrophobic. Fog basking is akin to basking in the sun to increase body temperature, but in this case the beetle uses the elytra to collect water. The increased surface area and hydrophobicity of the elytra increase the amount of water that can be extracted from the fog. This water is then funneled to the head of the beetle as a result of the adopted head-down stance.
Watch this behavior in action below:
This adaptation is so cool that humans are trying to adopt the technology to make a self-filling water bottle!
Read more in the paper below:
Norgaard, T., and M. Dacke 2010. Fog-basking behaviour and water collection efficiency in Namib Desert Darkling beetles. Front. Zool. 7:23.
“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.
A Snapshot of Pselaphine Beetle Diversity: plates from Raffray’s Étude sur les Psélaphides (1890)
Guest post by Joseph Parker, Coleopterist, Columbia University.
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to walk through a rainforest, you’ll probably have noticed huge numbers of ants patrolling the ground at your feet. Ants dominate forest environments, dismembering other arthropods, harvesting honeydew from plant sucking bugs, and waging war on neighbouring colonies.
But amongst the ants exists another, far more poorly known group of creatures… a group of beetles called Pselaphinae (SEH-LA-FIN-EE). In terms of species richness they rival—and may even surpass—ants. These beetles are remarkable, being one of the most morphologically diverse groups of organisms out there, with a seemingly endless range of bizarre body forms. Continue reading