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New beetle species discovery celebrates Darwin’s birthday

A new beetle species originally discovered by Charles Darwin in Bahia Blanca, Argentina in 1832 during his H. M. S. Beagle expedition has been rediscovered by Dr. Stylianos Chatzimanolis, an entomologist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who presented the new species in the Feb. 12, 2014, edition of the journal ZooKeys in celebration of what would have been Charles Darwin’s birthday.

This image shows the newly described species Darwinilus sedarisi.
This image shows the newly described species Darwinilus sedarisi.Natural History Museum (London) CC-BY 4.0

The new rove beetle Darwinilus sedarisi is a never before described genus and species. The beetle was lost for 180 years among the hundreds of samples Darwin collected during his voyage on the Beagle. There are 57,000 known and documented species of rove beetle on Earth but this one may be the most special historically because Darwin found it.

Chatzimanolis rediscovered the specimen from a collection loaned to him from Darwin’s samples stored at the Natural History of Museum in London.

This specimen is one of only two known examples of Darwinilus sedarisi that has ever been documented by researchers across the world. The original habitat of the beetle has been converted to agricultural use and no living specimens have ever been found. The researchers fear that Darwin’s birthday beetle may now be extinct.

Chatzimanolis received the collection that contained Darwinilus sedarisi in 2008 but the discovery and process of verification of a new species has coincided with the annual celebration of Darwin’s birth.