Friday, 21 June 2013

A new species of Skin Beetle from Yunnan Province, China.

Skin Beetles, Dermestidae, are small (1-12 mm) oval Beetles with scaly bodies and distinctive clubbed antennae which can be fitted into grooves on the body for protection. Most species feed on dry plant matter, and can be a pest if they get into grain stores or fabrics. Others are carrion feeders, and are considered useful in forensic entomology; they are late stage carcass feeders targeting dried skin, tendons and bone, and their presence indicates how long corpses have been exposed (rather than buried or shoved in a fridge) after their deaths, not generally colonizing a body till it has been dead about five days. They are also sometimes used by natural history museums to clean animal skeletons for display.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 27 December 2012, Meiying Lin and Xingke Yang of the Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution at the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describe a new species of Skin Beetle discovered in the Nanban River Watershed National Natural Reserve in Yunnan Province during a study that was part of the Living Landscapes China project.

The new beetle is placed in the genus Trichodryas, which has perviously only been known from Malaysia; Lin & Yang suggest that this may imply the genus is far more widely distributed across southeast Asia, and simply has not yet been found and described in many locations. It is given the specific name slipinskii, in honour of Adam Ślipiński of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, a leading Beetle biologist.

Trichodryas slipinskii is a 3.0-3.2 mm brown Beetle with white eyes and 10-segmented antennae. The species is described from two male specimens captured in a Malaise trap (tent like structure used to capture flying insects) in forest, 746 m above sealevel in the Nanban River Watershed National Natural Reserve, close to the border with Myanmar.

Trichodryas slipinskii. Lin & Yang (2012).

The location where Trichodryas slipinskii was discovered. Google Maps.

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