Ground beetles, 19th century

Ground beetles, 19th century

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Ground beetles, 19th century. At upper right is the forest caterpillar hunter beetle (Calosoma sycophanta). At upper centre and lower left is the Greater crucifix beetle (Panagaeus cruxmajor). The latter is a rare European ground beetle that was a prize for any 19th-century collector. In a letter to his old friend Leonard Jenyns (17 Oct 1846) Darwin recounted an incident as an undergraduate at Cambridge University where he saw 'the sacred Panagaeus crux major'. Having collected a carabid beetle in each hand already he was forced to free a hand by placing one of the beetles between his teeth. Unfortunately the beetle was able to squirt a highly acrid fluid, and in spitting it out he lost all three. This illustration is from Donovan's 'Natural History of British Insects' (from a volume circa 1806).

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Keywords: 1800s, 1806, 19th century, animal, beetle, biological, biology, carabid, carabus, charles darwin, colour, donovan, entomological, entomology, fauna, historical, history, illustration, insect, natural history, natural history of british insects, nature, no-one, nobody, rare, specimen, wildlife, zoological, zoology

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