Sunday, 30 November 2014

Creature 61: Trachelophorus giraffa

A beetle that uses its neck to fight.
Today's creature is a member of that incredibly most specious super-family the Curculionoidae, commonly know as the weevils. This species belongs to a family called Attelabidae, which is just outside the family with the bulk of the species Curculionidae.  The little grubs that sailors pull out of their biscuits are probably juvenile flour weevils, but there a weevils which specialize on all kinds of different plant. There are 60,000 known species of weevil and probably as many unknown species. To put this is perspective the whole class mammalia only has about 5,500 known species. As you can imagine, with that many species there must be a few unusual ones. They are a type of beetle and are sometimes called elephant beetles but the common name weevil is more common.

Trachelophorus giraffa is commonly called a giraffe weevil, so I guess if you wanted to you could call it the giraffe elephant beetle. Once you have seen it you will no longer wonder why it is called a giraffe weevil. 

The elongate "neck" is formed from a combination of an elongate pronotum and an posterior of the head. The males use their "necks" to fight over females. The females have a much shorter "neck" as they don't nee it for fighting. They do use it for rolling leaves into tubes for their nests. This behavior is common to all species in the genus Trachelophorus.  Female giraffe weevils lay only one egg at a time.

Like most beetles in the weevil group, giraffe weevils are very host specific, or in layman's terms they are very fussy eaters. They rely entirely on host plants from the genus Bridelia.

Giraffe weevils are endemic to that hotbed of bizarre creatures, Madagascar.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Attelabidae
Genus: Trachelophorus
Species: Trachelophorus giraffa

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