Scarabaeus lancifer Linné, 1767 : 544

Maldaner, Maria E., Cupello, Mario, Ferreira, Daniela C. & Vaz-De-Mello, Fernando Z., 2017, Type specimens and names assigned to Coprophanaeus (Megaphanaeus) d’Olsoufieff, 1924, the largest New World dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Phanaeini), Zootaxa 4272 (1), pp. 83-102 : 85-87

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Scarabaeus lancifer Linné, 1767 : 544


Scarabaeus lancifer Linné, 1767: 544 View in CoL .

Type specimen: Neotype, here designated, (‘ BRASIL, Pará, Belém, Parque Estadual do Utinga / 1˚25'07.2'' S; 48˚25'47.6'' W / Pitfall c/ baço 19-26/I/15 / Col. Silva et al. ’, ‘ NEOTYPE ♂ / Scarabaeus / lancifer Linné 1767 / Maldaner et al. 2017 ’), BMNH (ex CEMT) ( Figure 1).

Type locality: Brazil: Pará, Belém, Parque Estadual do Utinga , 1˚25'07.2'' S; 48˚25'47.6'' W.

Nomenclatural history: This name, the oldest that is today used to denote a species of Megaphanaeus , was described by Linné (1767) in the twelfth edition of Systema Naturae with a very simple, straightforward description: ‘ S. exescutellatus violaceus , capite cornu angulato, thorace inaequali, elytris sulcatis ’, with Brazil as its place of origin (‘ Habitat in Brasilia ’).

The majority of the insect specimens studied by Linnaeus are nowadays deposited in two European institutions: the Linnean Society of London , which has been owning Linnaeus private collection since 1783, when the society’s founder, the English botanist sir James Edward Smith (1759–1828), purchased it from Linnaeus widow and daughter ( Walker 1988; Gage & Stearn 1988), and the Uppsala University Museum of Zoology , Sweden, which gathers material studied by Linnaeus while he was Professor of Medicine and Botany at that university and from other collections studied by him (e.g., the ‘ Museum Ludovicae Ulricae ’, Louisa Ulrika’s of Prussia , queen consort of Sweden, private collection of natural history specimens) ( Wallin 2001). Although we could not find in any of those collections a specimen that could be linked to the description of S. lancifer ( Wallin [2001] for Uppsala University; MC personal observation at the LSUK on the 28th of April 2016), we believe that Linnaeus did examine physical specimens of Scarabaeus lancifer (not only illustrations), since he did not include a cross or dagger after this name, a mark that would indicate he had not seen any preserved or alive specimen of a given species1. However, as the whereabouts of those specimens are unknown to us, we had to rely on two literature references cited by Linné (1767) in his description of S. lancifer to figure out to which dung beetle species he was applying this name.

The first reference cited by Linnaeus was the beetle named ‘ Taurus ’ on page 247 of the second volume of the 1648 Historia Naturalis Brasiliae. This part of the book, one of the earliest accounts of the Brazilian natural history, was written by the German naturalist Georg Marcgrave (1610–1644), who studied first-hand the natural history of the areas occupied in the mid-seventeenth century by the Dutch republic in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil ( Papavero 1971). Among some curiosities about this beetle, Marcgrave (1648) said that its ‘body, legs and wings [elytra] have a mixed, bright black, green and gold colouration’ (‘ Totum autem corpus, crura and alae sunt insignis splendentis coloris, ex nigro, viridi, and aureo mixti ’). Considering this description plus the information that Marcgrave was limited to an area in today’s northeastern Brazil ( Papavero, 1971), we agree that his description and illustration do not correspond to the species currently known as Coprophanaeus lancifer , which usually has bright blue and purple colouration and lives in the Amazon forest, but rather to what we know today as C. ensifer , a species that commonly shows green colour and occurs in the area explored by Marcgrave.

The second reference listed by Linné (1767) was ‘ Lancifer violaceus ’, depicted in ‘ f. I, 2 ’ of the first volume, part 2, of the 1766 Catalogus Systematicus Coleopterorum, by the Dutch entomologist Johann Eusebius Voet. Voet (1766) described ‘ Lancifer violaceus ’ on page 36 and 37 of the Latin version of his book (and on pages 39 and 40 of the French version, under the name ‘ Le bousier phalangiste violet ’, and pages 38 and 39 of the Dutch version as ‘ violette piekdraager ’) and illustrated it on figure 1 of plate XXIII ( Figure 2 View FIGURE 2 A, left); figure 2 on that same plate refers to ‘ Copris violaceus major ’ (‘ le grand bousier violet ’, or ‘ groote violette mestkever ’) ( Figure 2 View FIGURE 2 A, right), and these images are probably the ones referred to by Linnaeus, even though he had not mentioned any specific plate. As already noted by d’Olsoufieff (1924) and Edmonds & Zídek (2010), these figures illustrate clearly what we nowadays call Coprophanaeus lancifer . Nonetheless, the place of origin of ‘ Lancifer violaceus ’, a large male C. lancifer , was mistakenly reported by Voet as being the Cape of Good Hope (‘ Cap de Bonne-Esperance ’), in South Africa; the second ‘species’ described by him, ‘ Copris violaceus major ’, is a female C. lancifer and had no cited place of origin. As pointed out by d’Olsoufieff (1924) and Edmonds & Zídek (2010), Voet (1766) presented a third illustration of a C. lancifer : figure 38 of plate XXVII ( Figure 2 View FIGURE 2 B), which is either (following d'Olsoufieff) a ‘chimeric’ specimen made up of the body of a male C. lancifer and the head of another unidentified scarab beetle, or more probably (in our opinion) a deformed hornless specimen. However, as Linné (1767) did not cite this illustration in the description of Scarabaeus lancifer , this specimen cannot be considered as part of the type series. This illustration is also reproduced on Jablonsky & Herbst’s (1789) plate VIII identified as ‘ Scarabaeus Hamadrias ’.

As Linné (1767) cited the illustrations of both Marcgrave’s and Voet’s books, we should consider the specimens which those illustrations were based on as part of the type series of Scarabaeus lancifer along with the physical specimens that Linnaeus had on hands when he wrote its description (i.e., those illustrations are iconotypes as defined by Evenhuis, 2008; see Article 72.5.6 of the Code). Therefore, as Marcgrave’s and Voet’s illustrations depict two different species (Marcgrave depicts an individual of the species nowadays known as C. ensifer ; Voet depicts the Amazon species of Megaphanaeus ), S. lancifer type series is composite and a single specimen should be designated to fix the name to a sole species taxon. As said above, no syntypes are known to remain at any of the collections housing Linnaeus type specimens. At the same time, no Voet or Macgrave collections are known to exist (their name are not even mentioned by Horn & Kahle [1936] and Horn et al. [1990b], as noted earlier by Krell [2012]). Therefore, following Article 75 of the Code, we judge that the best way to fix the name Scarabaeus lancifer to a single species taxon is to designate a neotype for it, what we do herein by choosing a male specimen of the species modernly called as Coprophanaeus lancifer (sensu d’Olsoufieff 1924; Edmonds 1972; Arnaud 2002b; Edmonds & Zídek 2010) as the new name-bearing type of Scarabaeus lancifer ( Figure 1). In accordance to Articles 75.3.2 and 75.3.6, we here designate a specimen from Brazil that corresponds 1. See footnote on page 613 of the tenth edition of Systema Naturae, where Linnaeus (1758) says: ‘ Signo Crucis ubique notavimus animalia nobis nec viva, nec in museis asservata vise, ut Naturae consulti ad ea attentius examinanda incitentur ’ (‘We have everywhere used the sign of the Cross to mark animals which we have not seen either in the living state or preserved in museums, that so Naturalists may be stimulated to examine them more closely’; translation by Heller, 1964). But it is important to have in mind that it was not always that Linnaeus used the cross with this meaning: in his Genera Plantarum ( Linnaeus, 1754), for instance, it was the absence of an asterisk or a dagger, and not its presence, the indication that a given species was not examined first-hand by him ( Moore and Dransfield, 1979).

morphologically to modern descriptions of C. lancifer (Arnaud 2002; Edmonds & Zídek 2010) as the neotype. Although it was originally deposited at the CEMT collection, it is to be deposited in BMNH.














Scarabaeus lancifer Linné, 1767 : 544

Maldaner, Maria E., Cupello, Mario, Ferreira, Daniela C. & Vaz-De-Mello, Fernando Z. 2017

Scarabaeus lancifer Linné, 1767 : 544

Linne 1767: 544
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