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Dung beetle named for Charles Darwin

September 26, 2009 |  1:15 pm


Recently, we learned that a newly discovered hairy yellow spider had been named for David Bowie.

Since the undisputed "rock star" of the field of biology would have to be Charles Darwin (no matter what Kirk Cameron may think of him), we can't be too surprised that the latest celebrity-namesake insect is a dung beetle named Canthidium (Eucanthidium) darwini.

The newly discovered beetle measures only about 4 millimeters in length and was found during a series of expeditions to the remote Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica, during which over 30 species of amphibians, beetles and plants were found.  C. darwini is one of about 180 known species of dung beetle native to Costa Rica, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

The expedition was founded by the U.K.'s Darwin Initiative project, which has granted funds since 1992 to countries that are "rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to meet their objectives" for conservation.  (No word on why the dung beetle was named for Darwin, rather than a seemingly more prestigious amphibian.)  Researchers were able to coax C. darwini out of hiding by baiting traps with pig manure, a delicacy by dung beetle standards, the Telegraph reports.

This year marks not only the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, but also the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark work "The Origin of Species."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Undated file photo of the naturalist.

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