The new species is finally described several decades after its collection from nature
Fossil discoveries usually take place out in the field. However, some are in found in the drawers of the museum where they spent decades before being recognized as an entirely new species. Such is the case of a large and likely extinct ground beetle found at the National Museum of Natural History, France.
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The beetle species which consists of a single specimen was collected prior to 1871 from Samoa - a South Pacific region and then sent to the museum. Now, more than 140 years later, the species is finally indentified and has been given the name Bryanites graeffi.
The newly-identified beetle species is the member of genus Bryanites which previously comprised of only two species represented by only two specimens both found in an island of Samoa, called Savai’i. After the inclusion of Bryanites graeffi , the genus is now expanded to three species.
However, Bryanites graeffi is the largest of the group with the length of 16.2 mm. The species can be easily distinguished from its unusual large size. Still, it was overlooked throughout those years.
The beetle species has been named after its original collector Dr. Eduard Graeffe who discovered it during his trip to Samoa in 1860s. No other specimen has been found ever since, suggesting that the species may be extinct.
The species is linked to other groups of beetles from New Zealand and Fiji that likely diverged from each other at some point of the history.
“The results of the cladistic analysis succeed in the goal of placing the new species as a member of a Samoan lineage, Bryanites, that exhibits a close biogeographic relationship to the Fijian relict, Vitagonum. This clade, and its sister group Ctenognathus of New Zealand, diverged early in the history of Pacific Platynini.” Authors wrote in the study.
Researchers are still unable to pinpoint exactly why the specimen has been avoided until now.