New Beetle from Gibraltar

A new species of weevil has been described as Torneuma bensusani, with Gibraltar as its type locality.

The weevil was described by Dr Peter Stüben of the Curculio Institute, the world authority on cryptorhynchine weevils of the Western Palaearctic, and named after Dr Keith Bensusan, head of the GONHS Invertebrate Section, and responsible for Research and Collections at the Botanic Gardens. It was published in 'Weevil News', a journal of the Curculio Institute.

Keith found the first specimen of the species in Gibraltar with his colleague Charlie Perez. He then found several more in Ceuta (North Africa) whilst searching for subterranean ants with Rhian Guillem, before Peter Stüben visited Gibraltar and found an additional specimen.

Peter Stüben had visited Gibraltar in August 2010 to sample some of the Rock's habitats for weevils. This he did with Keith, Charlie and their friend and colleague Pepe Torres from La Linea, who are members of the Curculio Institute.

Part of the reason for Peter's visit had been to try and locate more specimens of the new species of weevil. Charlie, Keith and Pepe (who also had a species of Torneuma, T. torresi, named after him by Stüben recently) had a delightful day with their friend Peter who, as well as being a first-rate coleopterist and biologist, is also an extremely amiable and enthusiastic person with a deep love of fieldwork, says press release.

The finding of Torneuma bensusani from Gibraltar and Ceuta, at such a degree of geographical separation, is remarkable because the species is flightless, blind and subterranean! In Gibraltar, the species has been found to coexist with the apparently more numerous Torneuma baeticum, a species only known previously from a single specimen collected from Sierra Bermeja, near Estepona.

In 2011 the Curculio Institute will begin a Europe-wide 'Molecular Weevil Identification project' in an effort to build a molecular and image database for all species of weevils in Europe (some 2500 species). The project will include contributions of specimens from Gibraltar by Keith and Charlie of the GONHS Invertebrate Section. Anyone interested in the Curculio Institute and its work can find more details at: www.curci.de

Although one species of plant has in the past had a Gibraltarian as an official ‘authority’ to the naming, this is thought to be the first time that a living species has been discovered and named after a Gibraltarian.

18-01-11




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