It’s not everyday that QuestaGamer Tanya finds an insect this odd. And that’s saying something, as Tanya has been building quite a collection of cool bug sightings lately (we'll have to feature more of her finds soon). Normally she has at least some kind of idea what she’s looking at though. But when face to face with this oddity, all she could do was scratch her head - and she wasn’t alone.
“The wings look very primitive” said expert silversea_starstrong, “so this is going to be something very interesting!” But what on Earth could it be?
An elongated body a bit like a dragonfly. But the wings are not at all what you'd expect for that - and it's actually a bit small (almost 2cm long). The large compound eyes make the head look a little like that of a fly. Then there are the strange antennae that tuck away under its head - what the?! Give up yet? What's your best guess?
The best clue is found where the wings meet the body. If you look carefully you’ll notice the small hardened wing cases (or ‘elytra’) of a beetle. Clearly they aren’t doing a very good job of covering the wings though!
As it turns out, our experts were able to ID Tanya’s sighting. “This is easily the coolest sighting I have seen yet on QuestaGame!” said expert Scott Gilmore, “It is commonly called a Ship-timber beetle and it is from the family Lymexylidae." As a family of woodboring beetle, the larvae of Ship-timber beetles bore into living or decaying wood. They are also known to eat fungi that grow in their tunnels. Some species are considered pests, causing damage to timber structures (including big floating ones).
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) shows just over 5,000 records of Ship-timber beetles, the vast majority of which are from Europe. There are a smattering of records from across the Americas, southern Africa and on the Pacific coast of Asia. Only a handful have been documented in Australia before. Congratulations to Tanya for a very rare and cool find indeed (1412 gold reward)!
Feeling inspired? Keep on adventuring - we could be featuring your sighting next!
P.S. Such an interesting creature clearly deserves an even closer look. Tanya did really well working in difficult light conditions to get her photos. But check out these gorgeous close-ups of another Ship-timber beetle that was also found in Australia. Thanks to Bron King for these images.