Lacking anything substantive to say, I am proffering pictures and videos today. But they’re good ones. Here are some photographs of Malaysian beetles courtesy of Up Close with Nature, “Kurt aka OrionMystery’s Macro Photography” blog. Thanks to Alex Wild and Matthew Cobb for alerting me.
To a first order of approximation, all animals are insects, and all insects are beetles. Of the roughly one million described species of insects, anywhere between 30% and 40% are beetles, insects in the order Coleoptera.
Their abundance is the source of an anecdote that may be aprocryphal: someone once asked the geneticist J. B. S. Haldane what one could infer about the creator from the nature of His creation: “An inordinate fondness for beetles,” Haldane supposedly quipped. A more reliable source, Haldane’s own book What is Life? The Layman’s View of Nature, says this:
The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known, and perhaps more, as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals. Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order. That kind of thing is characteristic of nature.
Wikiquotes also reports Steve Gould’s attempts to track down the quote:
- Stephen Jay Gould also discussed the quote in the article “A Special Fondness for Beetles” in the January 1993 issue of Natural History (Issue 1, Volume 2), which was reprinted on p. 377 of his book Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History. Here he mentioned that Haldane had given a speech to the British Interplanetary Society in 1951, and that a report on the speech was included in Volume 10 of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society which says that “he concluded that the Creator, if he exists, has a special preference for beetles.” Gould also says that in a letter to the August 1992 issue of The Linnean, a friend of Haldane’s named Kenneth Kermack said that both he and his wife Doris remembered Haldane using the phrase “an inordinate fondness for beetles”:
I have checked my memory with Doris, who also knew Haldane well, and what he actually said was: “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” J.B.S.H. himself had an inordinate fondness for the statement: he repeated it frequently. More often than not it had the addition: “God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.” . . . Haldane was making a theological point: God is most likely to take trouble over reproducing his own image, and his 400,000 attempts at the perfect beetle contrast with his slipshod creation of man. When we meet the Almighty face to face he will resemble a beetle (or a star) and not Dr. Carey [the Archbishop of Canterbury].”
But on to the creatures themselves; indented captions are from “Kurt’s” website:
Here are two photos of the “trilobite beetle,” something I didn’t know existed (they seem to be in the genus Duliticola, though this one wasn’t identified).
Amazing Violin Beetle from Maliau Basin
The name is quite appropriate, and this is one of five species in the genus Mormolyce:
Handsome male click beetle, Callirhipidae, Elateridae
Look at those splendid antennae!
A rove beetle:
A newly emerged golden tortoise beetle(?) [JAC: probably not, because that species is found only in North America]
Finally, sex and death.
Mating pair of tortoise beetle, Laccoptera sp. (?). More bugs porn here.
Nature red in tarsus and mandible—a beetle about to meet its maker:
About two million species have been formally described, which means that up to 20% of all described species are beetles. But that’s only a fraction of all species that exist on Earth, since most haven’t been found and scientifically described. How many species really exist on our planet? Go here for one answer.
There are lots of other pictures at Kurt’s site. And Matthew has called my attention to an awesome artist who makes beetles and other insects out of glass: “Vetropod” who has an e-shop at Etsy. For around $60-$200 you could make some entomologist very happy at Christmas. Here are two of Vetropod’s items: a rhinoceros beetle and a trilobite beetle. Go have a look.