Quiz: name that arthropod!

Here’s a tw**t sent by Matthew; your job is to guess what this thing is. At least you should be able to get the order! Answer at 12:30 Chicago time.

by Matthew Cobb

JAC: A “holotype” is the one physical specimen of a species whose physical traits were used to describe the species. There’s only one per species, and it’s precious. Nowadays with DNA their usefulness is not as great as it once was, but museums send these things out all the time to people wanting to know whether what they’ve collected is a member of the holotype’s species.

The “MCZ” is Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, whose laboratory annex is where I did my Ph.D. research.


  1. Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink


    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      I counted the wings too. But they look very very small to be functional.
      I’m suspicious. I can only see one leg, and the term “arthropod” is suspiciously precise given the audience and the source(s). I’m not even going to take odds on it being a hexapod, let alone an insect.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I wonder what it could bee.


    • ratabago
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      I think it’s a rat. At least I smell one…

      Order Photoshoptera, perhaps?

      • Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        Pieces glued together is my guess, since there was apparently a physical object to react to. Multiple orders involved,

  3. dargndorp
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Looks like a glotzoculus chimeralis, order: fluttercritter.

  4. Phil Rounds
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Musca domestica?

  5. W.Benson
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Diptera: Aristate antennae.

  6. Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    My guess, based on the comment about holotypes, is that this is a mutant fly not typical of its species.

  7. Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Head: odanata
    Thorax: diptera
    Abdomen: hymenoptera
    Wings: no clue

    • Posted July 15, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      The wings are tough. I think the hind wings of something, but what? Mayfly, Neuropteran, or something else that is veiny.

    • Frank
      Posted July 15, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I agree and can only guess that the wings are neuropteran, with an unusual shape?

  8. Posted July 15, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    That is amazing. Amazeballs, even.
    It has to be a bunch of insects glued together, but it is well done! I remember this being done for the lab practical in my entomology lab by the TA. Holotype it ain’t, indeed.

  9. carpevita
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I am no entomologist, but I thought the stripes made it look zebra-like. A google search revealed this: http://bugguide.net/node/view/418926

    • Posted July 15, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Tha is a pretty Syrphid fly, but I think the thorax is a flesh fly, Sarcophagidae.

  10. Posted July 16, 2017 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    That thing seems to be assembled from several different insects!

  11. Posted July 16, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Is it a hollow type?

  12. rachel
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I posted this tweet! On close examination, it’s a bunch of parts from different insects, glued together. A head-scratcher for beginning entomologists, to be sure. So it’s “unique” but not a true holotype!

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