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Mantichora scabra
Range:  southern Africa 
Size: 55 - 65 mm

The last beetle species featured on this site is not actually a scarab, but as I had some photos of it and it's such an impressive beetle, I have included it.  The African genus Mantichora contains the largest species of tiger beetles (family Cicindelidae) in the world.  The species M. herculeana reaches 70 mm (approx. 2.75 in.) in length, which is very large by tiger beetle standards.  The kind shown here is Mantichora scabra from South Africa.  The first two photos shown below are of a female.  These specimens, collected in January of 1996, were photographed at the insect zoo of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.  Mantichora is a predator which uses its powerful mandibles to seize and dismember prey, mainly small insects.  The larvae of tiger beetles have developed a rather unusual method of ambushing their prey.  The larva lives within a vertical tunnel which it excavates in the ground, and uses the top of its head as a door at the surface.  The head is flattened and camouflaged to look like the ground.  When an unwary insect passes near it, the larva quickly lunges part way out and grabs the prey in its sickle shaped mouth parts.  It then retreats back into the tunnel, dragging its victim inside.  At least some tiger beetle larvae have a venomous bite, a rare feature in coleoptera.  The venom is not known to pose any threat to humans or other large animals, however.  The larvae of some other beetles, such as the predacious diving beetles (family Dyticidae) also possess venom-equipped mandibles.

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The female M. scabra.  Note the stout, sickle shaped mandibles.  The male can be seen just below in the background.  This female is a rather aged example, and is missing most of her tarsal claws as well as small section of her right antenna.
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Mantichora scabra (female) - Image  C. Campbell

 
Mantichora scabra (female) - Image  C. Campbell
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Another view of the same female. Mantichora is a fast runner, and it is in this way that it chases down its prey.  The eyes are large and well developed as in other species of cicindelid beetles, but unlike most others, Mantichora is flightless.  In the course of its evolution as a ground-based predator, its elytra have become fused, and its flight wings degenerate.
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Mantichora scabra (male) - Image  C. Campbell
Mantichora scabra (male) - Image  C. Campbell

 
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The two photos above are of a male Mantichora scabra.  His mandibles are considerably larger than those of the female.  However, the bite of the female is actually much stronger.  Visible in this photo is the large "tooth" on the mandible.  This projection aids in holding prey.  Many lucanids (stag beetles) have similar structures on their mandibles, but in their case they are used for gripping other males during combat, rather than for catching prey.
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