Beetles And Wasps Vie For Title of Most Diverse Critter

Beetles make up around 40% of all insect species and around 25% of all animals. Are there really that many different kinds of beetles — or do scientists have a strong pro-beetle bias?

8/6/2020 9:10:00 AM

Beetles make up around 40% of all insect species and around 25% of all animals. Are there really that many different kinds of beetles — or do scientists have a strong pro-beetle bias?

Beetles make up around 40% of all insect species ever described and around 25% of all animals. Are there really that many different kinds of beetles, or do scientists have a strong pro-beetle bias?

. All of them were beetles.That means that the stupendous, ever-growing list of beetle species just got a little longer. About 400,000 beetle species are known to science—that's around a quarter of all known animals. It's little wonder that famous scientist J. B. S. Haldane

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reportedlyonce said that if there's a God, the Creator seems to have"an inordinate fondness for beetles."But there's another contender out there that some scientists say should get the title of most diverse critter: parasitic wasps.First, consider the case for beetles—insects that are known for their hard wing case, after all. Their mind-boggling variety is part of the fascination for Smith.

"It's kind of akin to early humans looking up into the sky and gazing at this vast unknown," says Smith,"but we have this vast unknown here on Earth with this crazy diversity of beetles that seemingly never ends."Smith, who is about to graduate from the University of Kansas, recently had a research job on campus. She was handed a bunch of water beetles that had been collected in South America, and was told to see if any looked new to science.

"I had about 2,000 specimens that I sorted through," she says, noting that all were brown, oval shaped, and very small."The average size of these beetles is probably about the size of a capital O, in size 12 font."To tell the difference between them, she needed a microscope."Really it came down to--this is going to sound funny--it came down to the morphology of the male genitalia," says Smith.

It takes a lot of devotion to patiently examine the genitalia of teeny tiny beetles, but beetles seem to inspire that kind of dedication. Charles Darwin loved them, and he had plenty of company. One of Napoleon's generals had one of the largest collections in the world.

"Collecting beetles was a hobby in the 1800's. People would go out and collect as many beetles as they could, and then get together and compare the size of their beetle collections," saysAndrew Forbes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Iowa.

"It's certainly true that there are more species of described beetles than any other kind of animal," he says. But maybe that's because people have spent so much time hunting for them and cataloging them.Plus, beetles tend to be relatively easy to find and charismatic. At least, they're more charismatic than the kind of insect Forbes likes to study: parasitic wasps.

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"These are these tiny little wasps that lay their eggs in other insects," he says, explaining that the larva consumes the host from the inside."Eventually, it will kill the host and it bursts from the host's body kind of like Ridley Scott's Alien, you know, this horrible thing."

Around 100,000 parasitic wasp species are known, but way more are unknown. In fact, Forbes and some colleagues recentlystudieda variety of different insects and the wasps that parasitize them, to come up with an estimate of how many wasp species would be expected to be out there.

"Our numbers tell us that there are very likely more species of these wasps than any other type of insect," he says. Read more: NPR »

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sounds like this was written by a beetle Beetles can be hard to tell apart by year and model Beetles are not animals.dah There are a lot of beetles fans! What's J.B.S. Haldane's view? I have to say that the Beatle bias is real among scientists. I have evidence that they are known to be 'Hippeyish', not to mention their known use of illegal substances (for scientific purposes only, of course), and lastly, many are fans of Abbey Road which is the FINAL proof!

Don't think this is debatable... teamhymenoptera what's the percentage of rolling stones bugs Beetle's are racist flygirlNHM ? And, where do John, Paul, George, and Ringo figure in all this? Don't make me quote Haldane at you.... Do they have.... BEETLEMANIA? Coleoptera! Asking for help the last couple weeks my sister & I have been struggling to get by I lost my jobs as a janitor and filed for unemployment im waitin to get the benefits but until then were asking if anyone is willing to donate $1 It would help a ton Venmo or Cashapp MattMartins147

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