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New Love Bug Boasts Heart-Shaped Leg Joints

Feb 16, 2016 09:05 AM EST
Heart-Shaped Leg Joint
Heart-shaped leg joint of one of the new Ivierhipidius beetles.
(Photo : Natural History Museum of London )

A new beetle species found in a rainforest in Belize boasts a prominent heart-shaped leg joint and appears to have only one thing on their mind: Mating. Max Barclay of the Natural History Museum discovered these beetles, belonging to the genus Ivierhipidius, after spotting two odd-looking winged male specimens among thousands collected on a trip to Central America.

The unique bugs possess a heart-shaped trochanter, which is the part of the upper leg that connects it to the abdomen and has not been witnessed in any other type of beetle. Humans also have a body part called the "greater trochanter," but it is not as intricately shaped. However, researchers are unsure what exactly the heart-shaped joint is used for. 

Ivierhipidius is now known to contain at least four species from across Central and South America. I. paradoxus, the species found in Belize, inhabits lowland rainforests. 

"We've never seen a female or immature Ivierhipidius," Barclay said in a news release. "However, we do know that the males don't even have a functional mouth to eat, so their only purpose is to search for mates."

Researchers can't be sure, but it is believed that females are flightless and their larvae develop parasitically inside other insects, like those of their closest known relatives.

Barclay is the beetle collections manager at London's Natural History Museum, where more than half of the world's known beetle species can be found.

"One in five living creatures is a beetle, so it's incredible that we are still uncovering new species today, particularly with new modifications of body parts that tell us more about their evolution," he added. 

The study findings were recently published in the journal Acta Entomologica

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