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Greater crucifix beetle, 1806

Greater crucifix beetle, 1806

C028/9589

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Credit

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

Caption

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 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).

Release details

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