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Timarcha Latreille: A strange beetle and a living fossil

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The genus Timarcha seems unique among Chrysomelidae: Chrysomelinae by having plesiomorphic characters such as genitalia with a ring-like tegmen, covered with a setose parameral cap, together with apomorphic characters, including apterism and fused elytra. The distribution of this genus is also very peculiar: circum Mediterranean and northwestern American. Food selection also seems rather stict, comprising 8 families and 20 genera of plants. Two of the subgenera (Metallotimarcha and Americanotimarcha) share one plant family, the Ericaceae. The plant family Rubiaceae is also shared between three subgenera: Timarcha, Timarchostoma and Metallotimarcha. Reflex bleeding among diurnal species, aposematism, thanatosis, stomatic regurgitation are means of defense against predators, but not against parasites and commensals. A very archaic genus, probably originating in early Mesozoic, with around 100 taxa, and 50 subspecies. Mutations remain very common in the group and new species are possibly still emerging.

Affiliations: 1: 1Museum of Entomology, Gainesville, FL, USA, and Natural History Museum, 67 Bvd. Soult, 75012, Paris e-mail: ; 2: 2Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA e-mail: ; 3: 3HIG/327, Housing Board Colony, Borsi, Durg, 491001, India e-mail:


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