Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

The Mysterious Leaping Beetles of New Caledonia

What's worse than a beetle? A beetle that can leap like a flea, of course. And what's worse than a beetle that can leap like a flea? One whose diet is a complete mystery so that even if you wanted to deny it its favorite food you couldn't. That's the conundrum faced by residents of New Caledonia, where two new species of leaping beetle were discovered. Analyzing the DNA in the animals' guts, the investigators learned that they feed on plants — but not plants found anywhere in the archipelago. This either means that the bugs are ordering out (unlikely) or that whatever they're eating simply has not been identified yet (more likely). So just when you've gone to all the trouble of finding a new beetle you have to go straight back into the field and find a new plant species too. See why it's better not to poke about in things that aren't your business?