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Lithuania’s name for a new species of beetles from the Baltic amber


Vytautas Tamutis, Chief Entomologist of the Kaunas Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum, in cooperation with his colleagues from the Daugpils and Kaliningrad universities, named a new species of beetles genus Aphodius detected in the Baltic amber after Lithuania – Airapus lituanicus, in order to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Restoration of Independence of our state.

Beetles which belong to this group are rarely found in Baltic amber inclusions. Until the present day scientists had known only two species of Aphodius found in such inclusions. Beetles assigned to the new species were found in two amber pieces, and there were nine individuals belonging to this species embedded in one of them. This particularly rare finding enabled not only to describe all the features of body structure characteristic of this species but also to make certain preconditions related to the peculiarities of their life in the remote past, several tens of million years ago.

Beetles in the genus Airapus are currently found in the tropical climate zone, namely, in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Micronesia. Similar natural conditions must have been in the Baltic region around 50 million years ago.

The majority of all living Airapus are known as (saprophagous) eaters of decaying plant matter, including animal excrements, capable of living both on the soil surface and in hollow trees or rotting wood.

Public Relations Division
4 December 2017

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas