Friday, May 22, 2009

Acteon beetle

Still strangely depressed. Network + studying is coming along.

goal for the week 17hrs
work on and hopefully finish sphinx

The Acteon beetle (Megasoma acteon) is one of the world's heaviest insects. It might well be the heaviest but that seems to be open to debate. For example gravid giant wetas (really, really big crickets) are heavier, but does it count if it is only heavier when gravid... stuff like that. They are about 4 inches long and quite bulky. Acteon beetles are native to northwestern South America, and I've not found anything that directly says they are found in the rain forest but they seem to thrive in a deep mulch with 90% humidity so I'm guessing. They are carpusluar and mainly found in the evenings between January and November. Vegitation and rotting wood seem to be their main food sources. Males and Females differ greatly as the males have three prominant horns one on their head and two off their thorax. The females have no horns. They are very strong beetles and can easily rip through screen mesh and their exoskeleton is described as thick almost crab-like. Apparently if placed on their back on a smooth surface they can not right themselves and can die if left in that position. The larva which are also quite large and can weigh as much as 1/12500th of a ton, also the larval stage is much longer then the adult stage. The adults tend to live 100-150 days while the larva take 3 years to reach maturity. Even their eggs are quite large often exceeding 2 inches in lenght beforh hatching. The eggs have a very long incubation period for an insect taking up to a month to hatch.

Megasoma Acteon was described by Linneaus in 1758, and retains its original name. This is significant as Linneaus was the one that developed the basis of the taxonomic system used today. Carl Linneaus is known as "the father of Taxonomy" he developed the concepts of hiearchical classification and binomial nomerclature still in use today. He also under went the giant task of trying to classify all known life. Most of his of his original classifications have been disputed, further examined, and changed. So the Acteon Beetle has one of the oldest scientific names that is still in use. This beetle's name probably references mythology, Linneaus seems to have used a lot of gods and mythological figures in the names he gave. For example another beetle with a vaguely canine-like head in the genus Megasoma, that was named by Linneaus is Megasoma anubis. Megasoma acteon probably came from the story of Actaeon the hunter (Acteon in french), who came upon Diana goddess of the hunt bathing in the forest. Diana was angered that Actaeon had seen her and turned him into a stag, which was dismembered by his own hounds. The beetle was probably named Megasoma acteon to refer to the stag-like horns of its thorax.

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