In a few previous posts (here and here), I used a particularly large jewel beetle specimen as a subject to test several different flash diffusers I was working on. I chose that particular specimen because of its large size (necessitating long subject-to-lens distance), bright colors, and brilliantly shiny surface—all features that complicate illumination with flash, thus revealing any weaknesses in the diffuser design. In those posts, I had used the name Megaloxantha pupurascens peninsulae, based on the identification label that was on the specimen when I received it; however, I recently received the following e-mail from Raymond “Ted” Frey:
Sir, This can not be Megaloxantha purpurascens. The beautiful beetle shown has yellow/orange bulbous pronotal areas. Purpurascens does not have these yellow ones.
A quick perusal of my limited literature on southeast Asian Buprestidae confirmed this to be the case—interesting, since I received the specimen (many years ago) from Yoshihiko Kurosawa of Japan. Kurosawa was a long-time buprestid worker who had described the subspecies indicated on the label in his revision of the genus Megaloxantha (Kurosawa 1978) (a paper which I did not know about before—but do now thanks to the internetz). Ted (not me, the other one) suspected that the beetle actually represented Megaloxantha bicolor palawanica, which he confirmed after I sent to him the dorsal habitus photograph shown below.
This, too, is interesting, as M. b. palawanica was also described by Kurosawa in that very same work! Kurosawa was already at an advanced age when I had my exchange with him (early 1993) and is now deceased. I seriously doubt that Kurosawa actually misidentified the specimen, but rather committed a lapsus calami (“slip of the pen”) when preparing labels for the material he had assembled to send to me. We all do it—from a slip of the pen to an outright misidentification (and I wonder what future blog post will detail some error of mine!).
My thanks to Ted Frey for noticing the error and helping to correct it.
Kurosawa, Y. 1978. A revision of the buprestid beetles of the genus Megaloxantha Kerremans. Bulletin of the National Science Museum (Tokyo) series A, Zoology 4(3):207–232 [pdf].
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2013