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Megasoma elephas
Range:  southern Mexico and Central America
Size:  70 - 120 mm

Megasoma elephas is rather unusual among the elephant beetles in that its body is covered with a very dense, microscopic coat of hairs (called a "pile" or "carpet"), which are especially thick on the elytra.  A few other species of Megasoma, such as M. gyas and M. anubis, also possess such a covering.  The lateral thoracic horns of M. elephas are rather short and diverging, and the median thoracic horn is replaced by a mere stub.  There are two subspecies of M. elephas - M. elephas elephas from Central America, and M. elephas occidentalis from southwestern Mexico (Colima, Guerrero), the latter being distinguished from the former by the lateral thoracic horns, which are perpendicular to the axis of the body.  Also, the pile on the elytra is less dense and longer.  M. elephas occidentalis is rather common within its range in southwestern Mexico, but unfortunately, there appears to have been a recent decline in the population of M. elephas elephas in Central America.  This is primarily due to loss of habitat caused by the "slash and burn" destruction of the tropical rain forests in which they live.  Without old growth forests which contain large quantities of the decomposing logs in which their larvae develop, rhinoceros beetles such as Megasoma simply cannot survive.

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The male M. elephas elephas.  This species, along with other large dynastine scarabs such as Dynastes hercules, is one of the true giants among the beetles of Central America.  The example shown at right was photographed in Costa Rica by wildlife photographer Mike Turco.

Photo courtesy of Mike Turco, © 1997

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Megasoma elephas (male) - Image  1997 Mike Turco

 
Megasoma elephas (female)
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The female Megasoma elephas.  Like the male of the species, she too has a thick coat of tiny, yellow-ochre hairs covering her elytra.
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