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Smithsonian Libraries
Ms. captions and notes in 3rd folder are in Latin. DSI

Register forms have ms. caption titles; 1st title: hispa; 2nd: Lucanus; 3rd: Passalus; 4th: Mylabris; 5th: Phaleria. DSI

Possibly cut from the plates of Heft 2-16 (Coleoptera) by J. Sturm of: Faunae insectorum Germanicae initia ... / gesammelt und herausgegeben von Georg Wolffgang Franz Panzer. Nürnberg : In den Felsecken Buchhandlung, 1796-1813. DSI

French ms. notes in ink on register forms refer to Olivier's Entomologie. DSI

When Beetles Ate Dinosaurs

Smithsonian Magazine

Water-beetles destroying carp

Smithsonian Libraries

Three new myrmecophilous beetles

Smithsonian Libraries

Dung Beetles Offset Climate Change

Smithsonian Magazine

Photo: Duwwel

Methane, a gas that significantly contributes to global warming, comes from an array of sources associated with digestion and decay—like landfills, bogs, and the digestive tracks of the world’s cows. ”Cattle-rearing,” according to the UN News Center, “generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation.”

An unexpected hero has emerged to help contain this messy predicament, however. Dung beetles, it turns out, keep cow pats fluffy and aerated, preventing methane—which requires oxygen-free conditions—from forming. In a new study, researchers used a closed chamber to measure gaseous emissions from cow paddies both with and without beetles. The beetles, they found, significantly lowered the amount of greenhouse gases that seeped out of the cows’ waste.

“If the beetles can keep those methane emissions down, well then we should obviously thank them -– and make sure to include them in our calculations of overall climatic effects of dairy and beef farming,” said study lead Tomas Roslin in a statement.

One of the authors warns, however, that our appetite for beef is on the rise, while many dung beetle populations are on the decline. But most of these dung beetle declines are linked to populations of mammals in distress—think elephants, rhinos or pretty much any other large, charismatic species that people like to shoot or push out of prime habitat.  Many species of dung beetles are intimately linked to their hosts through particular dung preferences, so as those big animals decline, so, too, do the bugs. 

Cow farms, on the other hand, aren’t going anywhere, so as long as we don’t douse fields with pesticides, the beetles will probably be there, steadfastly munching away and helping to prevent that would-be methane from forming. But still, even the most determined dung beetles can’t offset all of those emissions, especially since a significant portion come directly out of the cow (mostly as burps). So don’t feel too relieved about eating that steak or burger. 

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Nature’s Own Pooper-Scoopers Keep Earth Livable for All of Us 

SIQ Can beetles be researchers?

Smithsonian Institution
John Ososky, museum specialist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Osteo Prep Laboratory answers: Can beetles be researchers?

British beetles: an introduction to the study of our indigenous Coleoptera. By E.C. Rye ..

Smithsonian Libraries
Each plate accompanied by leaf with descriptive letterpress.

Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae / von Hans Gebien

Smithsonian Libraries
Includes index.

Coleoptera: Lamellicornia

Smithsonian Libraries
Vol. 4 has series title: The Fauna of India, including Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Malaya.

Carrion Beetles Were the First Caring Parents

Smithsonian Magazine

Good parents protect their babies from danger, feed them and teach them the ways of the world. This is exactly what carrion beetles—a group of insects that feast on decaying flesh—did some 125 million years ago. According to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, not only were the beetles exceptional parents, but they also represent the oldest known example of active parenting on the planet. 

Finding traces of exceptional parenting in the fossil record is exceedingly difficult. In this case, the team managed it by studying fossils from China and Myanmar. The fossils showed that ancient beetles from the Early Cretaceous possessed special bodily structures close to those modern beetles possess that allow them to communicate with their young. Additionally, an amber fossil they uncovered caught the beetle parents in action, showing "elaborate biparental care and defense of small vertebrate carcasses for their larvae."

For all of their attentive care throughout the ages, however, parental love might not be enough. Several modern carrion beetles are endangered, the team reports. The American burying beetle, for example, is down to fewer than 1,000 individuals that live east of the Mississippi River. Even the most experienced parents in the world can't shield their babies from the ill-effects of human-driven habitat fragmentation, it seems.  

Researchers Make Cyborg Beetles a Reality

Smithsonian Magazine

It’s a matter of perspective: Depending on whether you like insects or not, this new beetle biobot could be awesome or an instant nightmare machine. Regardless of your feelings on the creature, this little cyborg beetle may one day help in search and rescue missions or spy on terrorists.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Nanyang Technical University in Singapore made the bot using a giant flower beetle, Mecynorrhina torquata—a 2-inch insect native to Africa. The team outfitted the beetle with a backpack containing a 1-cm square microprocessor, which they attached to the beetle's shell with beeswax. Electrodes from the backpack are connected to the beetle’s optic lobe and flight muscles, allowing an operator to stimulate those muscles via radio control, causing the beetle to take off, change direction during flight, or hover.

The beetle has been making test flights for over a year, but new tweaks to the system, outlined this week in The Journal of the Royal Society Interfaceallow the operators to control the speed and gate of walking beetles, meaning they could be used for terrestrial drone work as well.

But the most intriguing part of the paper is its discussion of the way insect drones could perform better and cost less than mechanical drones.

“First, unlike man-made legged robots for which many tiny parts, sensors and actuators are manufactured, assembled and integrated, the insect–computer hybrid robots directly use living insects as Nature's ready-made robot platforms,” the authors write in the paper. “The only necessary ‘assembly’ or ‘operation’ to create an insect–computer hybrid robot is to mount a miniature radio device and implant thin wire electrodes into appropriate neuromuscular sites on the insect for electrical stimulation to induce the desired motor actions and behaviours.”

“Insects are just amazing fliers compared to anything we can build at that scale,” Michel Maharbiz, an electrical engineer at Berkeley who is also working on the project, tells WIRED.

The “biobots” are also easier to handle than mechanical drones. Users can let nature take its course rather than constantly monitoring and tweaking man-made drones that might hit objects or lose altitude. Beetles control all that naturally. “By sending a signal to the beetle, we are able to simply change its direction of movement and the beetle will manage the rest,” Hirotaka Soto, one of the leaders of the project, says in a press release.

Currently, the beetle backpack operates with a 3.9-volt micro lithium battery, which lasts roughly a day. But Sato says in the future, the backpack could be powered by environmental sources, like ambient radio waves.

Work on improving the insect drones is ongoing, but Sato points out in the paper that learning how to control the beetle's legs “will significantly contribute to the future development of animal-computer hybrid robots,” saying that in the future dragonflies and cockroaches could be given similar cyborg treatments.

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