Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

<I>Blackburnium cavicolle</I> (Macleay, 1873)

Blackburnium cavicolle (Macleay, 1873)


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

1 December 2002 - Gerasimos Cassis & Tom A. Weir; updated by Andrew A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australia


The Bolboceratidae are a large family of 40 genera and 400 species known from all biogeographic regions (Zunino 1984; Scholtz & Browne 1996). More than half of the world's fauna occur in Australia where they are mostly found on the coastal fringe, although a number occur in the dry interior (Howden 1981). Krikken (1984) revised the genera of the Bolboceratidae (as Bolboceratini) of the Afrotropical subregion. The family has previously been treated as a subfamily of Geotrupidae (Lawrence 1982; Lawrence & Newton 1982; Lawrence & Britton 1991; Lawrence & Newton 1995), but Browne & Scholtz (1995, 1999) and Scholtz & Browne (1996) presented evidence showing that the Geotrupidae sensu Lawrence & Newton (1995) are clearly polyphyletic consisting of two distinct lineages, the Bolboceratinae (including Athyreini) and another consisting of the Geotrupinae, Taurocerastinae and Lethrinae. Thus, the subfamily Bolboceratinae should be accorded family status as it is in this Catalogue.

The Australian fauna has high generic endemicity. The extralimital genera Gilletinus Boucomont, Australobolbus Howden & Cooper and Blackburnium Boucomont are shared with New Guinea (Howden 1990) and the genus Eucanthus Westwood is known also from the Western Hemisphere (Howden & Cooper 1977). Originally, almost all the Australian species were placed in the genus Bolboceras Kirby; Blackburn (1904) described 27 species and Macleay (1864, 1871, 1873, 1888) described 16 species. Howden & Cooper (1977) revised the Australian genera, described a number of new genera, recognised new synonymies and new combinations, and discussed the possible relationships of the Australian fauna. Howden (1974, 1979, 1985) revised the species of Stenaspidius, Blackburnium and Bolboleaus Howden & Cooper, Blackbolbus Howden & Cooper and Bolborhachium Boucomont. The New Guinea species of Australobolbus were revised by Howden (1990) and include the new species A. cruciatus from the Torres Strait Islands. Howden (1992) revised the Australian mainland species of Australobolbus. Carne (1965) revised the genus Elephastomus W.S. Macleay, which includes the first described Australian geotrupid, Elephastomus proboscideus (Schreibers). The Walford-Huggins collection of Geotrupids was sold to R. Mignani, Rome, Italy (Howden, pers. comm.).

The most recent world catalogue of the family is by Boucomont (1912).

The biology of the Bolboceratidae is very poorly known and some published statements are misleading. Many of the species are known to dig deep burrows and are thought to feed on fungi or plant material (Howden & Cooper 1977). As a general rule, dung feeding is not thought to occur in this tribe (Howden & Cooper 1977). Carne (1965), however, records that the adults of Elephatsomus meraldus Carne bury large quantities of dung in their oviposition burrows. Howden (1955) reported that the larvae of the American members of this family feed on packed humus, an activity apparently shared by the Australian species. This is confirmed by Howden (1985) who noted that the brood balls of Bolborhachium recticorne and B. anneae are composed of finely divided humus. Many of the species, particularly the larger ones, are found in sandy habitats (Howden 1981).

Adults of most species are nocturnal, but Stenaspidius and Gilletinus species are diurnal (Howden 1976). The adults are known to stridulate by rubbing the abdomen against a file on the hind coxae (Moore 1986).



The Australian bolboceratids are medium to large-sized beetles (5–24 mm) and are usually black to brown. They are strongly convex, almost hemispherically shaped beetles, the elytra cover the abdomen, the antennae are 11-segmented with a circular, biconvex 3-segmented club, and males usually have large cephalic and pronotal horns (Lawrence & Britton 1991). Adults have asymmetrical, sclerotised mandibles with a prostheca and mesal tuft; the tentorium is of the single-foramen-type; the second axillary (2Ax) has the anterior margin of the dorsal-distal lobe concave and the dorsal surface of this lobe is very strongly convex; seven abdominal spiracles are present; the male has a well-defined tegmen but membranous penis; a well-developed genital capsule is present; female genitalia are without styli; 6 ovarioles present per ovary; karyotype 9+Xyp, and adults only provision food for their brood (Browne & Scholtz 1995, Scholtz & Browne 1996).

The larvae have 3-segmented antennae with the third segment reduced and the second with sensoria, and the legs are 3-segmented. The labrum is trilobed and the maxillae are divided into a separate galea and lacinia (Lawrence 1982). The fronto-clypeal suture is absent; galea and lacinia are separate; maxillary palpi are 4-segmented; maxillary and mandibular stridulatory areas are present; spiracles are biforous (Scholtz & Browne 1996). Howden (1985) described the larvae of Bolborhachium recticorne and Bolborhachium anneae.


General References

Blackburn, T. 1904. A revision of the Australian species of Bolboceras, with descriptions of new species (Coleoptera, Fam. Scarabaeidae). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 29: 481-526

Boucomont, A. 1912. Scarabaeidae: Taurocerastinae, Geotrupidae. pp. 1-47 in Schenkling, S. (ed.). Coleopterorum Catalogus. Lucanidae — Passalidae — Scarabaeidae I. Berlin : W. Junk Vol. XIX Pt 46.

Browne, D.J. & Scholtz, C.H. 1995. Phylogeny of the families of Scarabaeoidea (Coleoptera) based on characters of the hindwing articulation, hindwing base and wing venation. Systematic Entomology 20: 145-173

Browne, D.J. & Scholtz, C.H. 1999. A phylogeny of the families of Scarabaeoidea (Coleoptera). Systematic Entomology 24: 51-84

Carne, P.B. 1965. A revision of the genus Elephastomus Macleay (Coleoptera: Geotrupidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of Queensland 4(1): 3–13 [22 Mar. 1965]

Howden, H.F. 1955. Biology and taxonomy of North American beetles of the subfamily Geotrupinae with revisions of the genera Bolbocerosoma, Eucanthus, Geotrupes and Peltotrupes (Scarabaeidae). Proceedings of the United States National Museum 104: 151-319

Howden, H.F. 1974. A revision of the Australian genus Stenaspidius Westwood (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Geotrupinae). Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 17(2): 11–21 [15 Nov. 1974]

Howden, H.F. 1976. A sixth species of Stenaspidius Westwood with a note on adult behaviour (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Geotrupinae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 14(4): 439–441 [9 Jan. 1976]

Howden, H.F. 1979. A revision of the Australian genus Blackburnium Boucomont (Coleoptera : Scarabaeidae : Geotrupinae). Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 72: 1–88

Howden, H.F. 1981. Zoogeography of some Australian Coleoptera as exemplified by the Scarabaeoidea. pp. 1009-1035 in Keast, A. (ed.). Ecological Biogeography of Australia. The Hague : Dr. W. Junk.

Howden, H.F. 1985. A revision of the Australian beetle genera Bolboleaus Howden & Cooper, Blackbolbus Howden & Cooper, and Bolborhachium Boucomont (Scarabaeidae: Geotrupinae). Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 111: 1-179

Howden, H.F. 1990. The Geotrupinae of New Guinea (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 3(3): 261-289 [publication dated 9 Feb. 1990]

Howden, H.F. 1992. A revision of the Australian beetle genera Eucanthus Westwood, Bolbobaineus Howden & Cooper, Australobolbus Howden & Cooper and Gilletinus Boucomont (Scarabaeidae: Geotrupinae). Invertebrate Taxonomy 6(3): 605-717

Howden, H.F. & Cooper, J.B. 1977. The generic classification of the Bolboceratini of the Australian Region, with descriptions of four new genera (Scarabaeidae : Geotrupinae). Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 50: 1–50 [19 Aug. 1977]

Krikken, J. 1984. A generic reclassification of the Afrotropical Bolboceratini (Coleoptera: Geotrupidae). Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 1984: 23-45

Lawrence, J.F. 1982. Coleoptera. pp. 482-553 in Parker, S.P. (ed.). Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. New York : McGraw Hill Vol. 2 vii 1232 pp.

Lawrence, J.F. & Britton, E.B. 1991. Chapter 35. Coleoptera (Beetles). pp. 543-683 in Division of Entomology, CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. Ithaca, New York : Cornell University Press Vol. 2.

Lawrence, J.F. & Newton, A.F., Jr 1982. Evolution and classification of beetles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 13: 261-290

Lawrence, J.F. & Newton, A.F., Jr 1995. Families and subfamilies of Coleoptera (with selected genera, notes, references and data on family-group names). pp. 779-1006 in Pakaluk, J. & Ślipiński, S.A. (eds). Biology, Phylogeny and Classification of Coleoptera: Papers celebrating the 80th birthday of Roy A. Crowson. Warszawa : Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN.

Macleay, W.J. 1864. Descriptions of new genera and species of Coleoptera from Port Denison. Transactions of the Entomological Society of New South Wales 1: 106-130, pl. IX

Macleay, W.J. 1871. Notes on a collection of insects from Gayndah. Transactions of the Entomological Society of New South Wales 2: 79-205

Macleay, W.J. 1873. Miscellanea entomologica. Transactions of the Entomological Society of New South Wales 2: 319-370

Macleay, W.J. 1888. The insects of King's Sound and its vicinity. Part II. The Lamellicornes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 3: 897-924

Moore, B.P. 1986. A Guide to the Beetles of South-Eastern Australia. Greenwich : Australian Entomological Press Vol. Fasc. 7 pp. 101-116.

Scholtz, C.H. & Browne, D.J. 1996. Polyphyly in the Geotrupidae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea): a case for a new family. Journal of Natural History 30: 597-614

Zunino, M. 1984. Sistematica generica dei Geotrupinae (Coleoptera, Scarabaeoidea: Geotrupidae), filogenesi della sottofamiglia e considerazioni biogeografiche. Bollettino del Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali. Torino 2: 9-162


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)