rhinoceros beetle


rhinoceros beetle
any of several scarabaeid beetles, esp. of the genus Dynastes, which comprises the largest beetles, characterized by one or more horns on the head and prothorax. Also called dynastid.
[1675-85]

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▪ insect subfamily
also called  elephant beetle,  Hercules beetle,  Atlas beetle , or   unicorn beetle 
 any of numerous species of beetle, some of which are among the largest beetles on Earth, named for the impressive hornlike structures on the frontal portions of males. These beetles have rounded, convex backs, and their coloration varies from black to mottled greenish gray. Some are shiny, almost metallic, whereas others may be covered with short, fine hairs, giving them a velveteen appearance.

      Some species, such as the Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules), can grow to over 18 cm (7 inches) long, of which 10 cm (4 inches) may be horn. The Hercules beetle and rhinoceros beetle (D. neptunus) are spectacular, resembling an enormous pair of pincers. Found in American tropical forests, these two species have double horns that are oriented vertically. The longer of the two horns curves forward from behind the head, whereas the other emerges from the head itself. Another striking specimen is the 13-cm (5-inch) elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas) of the lowland rainforests in Central and South America. The male's head sports four horns: a long horn with a split tip, and behind it—on the thorax—three others. The central horn is split, and shorter, conical horns project forward from each side of the thorax. The American rhinoceros beetle (Xyloryctes jamaicensis) is a dark brown scarab a little over 25 mm (1 inch) long. The male possesses a single upright horn; the female has only a small tubercle. One European species, Oryctes nasicornis, has rear-pointing horns. The unicorn beetle (D. tityus) is another rhinoceros beetle found in temperate regions. The larvae can damage plant roots and the 62-mm (2.4-inch) adults live under rotting bark.

      The horns of the males are used for fighting—both over females and for feeding sites on trees, logs, and even crops. The horns are not used to inflict injury, but rather to force rivals from the disputed area. In spite of their fierce appearance, these beetles are harmless and feed only upon plant material.

      Some rhinoceros beetles spend long periods as youths. The larvae of Megasoma spend three to four years between egg and adult, developing in large rotting logs. Like many species of rhinoceros beetles, they are threatened by the trade in exotic insects, and deforestation contributes to their increasing rarity.

      Rhinoceros beetles belong to many genera in the subfamily Dynastinae of the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae). This very large family also includes the dung beetles (dung beetle).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rhinoceros beetle — Rhinoceros Rhi*noc e*ros (r[ i]*n[o^]s [ e]*r[o^]s), n. [L., fr. Gr. rinoke rws, rinoke rwtos; ri s, rino s, the nose + ke ras a horn: cf. F. rhinoc[ e]ros. See {Horn}.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any pachyderm belonging to the genera {Rhinoceros}, {Atelodus},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rhinoceros beetle — n. any of several medium to very large, dark colored, tropical scarab beetles: so called because of a hornlike projection on the head of the male …   English World dictionary

  • Rhinoceros beetle — Taxobox name = Rhinoceros beetle image width = 240px image caption = Rhinoceros beetle, Aegopsis curvicornis image width = 240px image caption = Three stages from larva to adult regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda classis = Insecta ordo =… …   Wikipedia

  • rhinoceros beetle — noun a very large mainly tropical beetle, the male of which has a curved horn on the head and typically another on the thorax. [Oryctes rhinoceros and other species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • rhinoceros beetle — noun any of various large chiefly tropical beetles having horns on the head; pest on coconuts • Hypernyms: ↑scarabaeid beetle, ↑scarabaeid, ↑scarabaean …   Useful english dictionary

  • rhinoceros beetle — noun Date: 1681 any of various large chiefly tropical scarab beetles (subfamily Dynastinae) having projecting horns on thorax and head …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • rhinoceros beetle — noun any of various tropical beetles, mostly of the genus Dynastes, having horns on the head and thorax; a pest on coconuts …   Wiktionary

  • rhinoceros beetle — rhinoc′eros bee tle n. ent any of several scarabaeid beetles, esp. of the genus Dynastes, which comprises the largest beetles, characterized by one or more horns on the head and prothorax • Etymology: 1675–85 …   From formal English to slang

  • rhinoceros beetle — /raɪˈnɒsərəs bitl/ (say ruy nosuhruhs beetl) noun any of various large, scarabaeid beetles of the subfamily Dynastinae, having prominent horns on the head and prothorax …   Australian English dictionary

  • European rhinoceros beetle — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia


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