‘Fire-colored’ creature — named for its ‘beauty’ — turns out to be a new species

A brightly colored creature nestled itself inside a crevice of a decaying tree in Tibet. Maybe it thought it was doing a good job hiding itself from predators, or maybe it was just looking to get some rest.

Either way, its “fire-colored” body was a sharp contrast to the tree’s dull browns and greens, and it was spotted by researchers.

The team of scientists was exploring near the Pai Town-Mêdog County Highway. That’s where they found the small critter, according to a study published Feb. 16 in the journal ZooKeys.

Researchers found the “fire-colored” beetle in a decaying tree in China.
Researchers found the “fire-colored” beetle in a decaying tree in China.

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After examining the creature, experts realized it was “unique” and determined it was actually a new genus and species of Pyrochroinae, or fire-colored beetle. Only one male specimen of the species — measuring about 0.8 inches long — was found, collected and analyzed.

The new species, known as Oblatopyrochroa bellula, was distinguished by its “truly unique” antennae, head shape and genitalia, researchers said.

Scientists said the beetle has a nearly triangular head with a “single, large” pit or concavity between its “moderate size” eyes. Its antenna are long, and its external genitalia are “fused” differently than other similar species and lack “hooks” and “teeth.”

The beetle has an “orange-yellow” body, but its antennae and legs are black, according to experts. Its body is “densely” covered with “short, fine, orange-yellow” bristle-like hairs, and its head is covered by “dense, small punctures.”’

Researchers named the species for its “beauty.” “Bellula-” is the Latin root “meaning ‘pretty’ or ‘elegant,’” they said.

The new species was found near Mêdog County in southeastern Tibet, an autonomous region controlled by China.

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