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1806 Darwin beetle Panagaeus cruxmajor cu

1806 Darwin beetle Panagaeus cruxmajor cu

C028/9878

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

From Donovan's "Natural History of British Insects" (plate by Donovan, volume circa 1806). Greater crucifix beetle, Panagaeus cruxmajor. This rare European ground beetle 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 afluid, and in spitting it out he lost all three.

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