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Morphology and Anatomy

Both a layman and a professional seeing a beetle firstly pay attention to its appearance and features of its external structure. In coleopterology, and in zoology in general, there is a special discipline morphology studying body structure. There are two points of view concerning the scope of this discipline. Some zoologists believe that morphology (a study of forms) concerns both external and internal structure of an animal. Thus, they distinguish external morphology (eidonomy) and internal morphology (anatomy). This, for instance, was the viewpoint pursued by the eminent entomologist G.Ya. Bei-Bienko in his manual on general entomology (G.Ya. Bei-Bienko, 1980). Other specialists regard morphology as a study of only external body structure, and anatomy as a study of internal structure, separate from morphology (e.g. Zakhvatkin, 1986). We prefer the first point of view and, therefore, will consider morphology and anatomy as a single discipline. The focus of our Web-site will be on the external structure of beetles, as the most attractive aspect for laymen who may visit our Web-site and the most important part for Coleoptera taxonomists. Professionals may object, saying that anatomy is equally important. And yet descriptions of new species of beetles and diagnoses of higher taxa are frequently published without consideration of details of internal structure, whereas an opposite situation (anatomy without external morphology) never occurs in descriptions and diagnoses of beetles.

Body of beetles as well as of all other insects comprises three parts (tagmata): head, thorax and abdomen. In each of these parts we can observe division into segments (rings), though in beetles segmentation is most pronounced in the abdomen and least pronounced on the head. The ancestors of insects had body nearly evenly segmented that was not divided into parts; the latter appeared in recent insects as a result of differentiation and fusion of separate segments.

We decided to split the detailed description of structure of beetles into three parts, in accordance with the division into sections. Here we will also consider the literature on morphology of beetles. A general idea of the structure of insects, beetles in particular, can be obtained in entomology manuals and handbooks. Apart from those listed we can recommend (Dogiel et al., 1951), (Shvanvich, 1949) and manual (Ross, Ross & Ross, 1985). There are, however, not too many Russian publications on morphology of beetles. The description of external structure and internal organization of beetles in the substantive manual by G.G. Jacobson (1905) remains an unexcelled publication in this field of knowledge. This is the only publication providing names of all parts of beetle body in five languages: Russian, Latin, German, French, and English.

Sufficiently detailed data on morphology of beetles are included in introductions to large keys to beetles of the European part of the USSR (Kryzhanovsky, 1965) and the Far East of Russia (Krivolutskaya, 1989). Mention should be made of the following manuals published abroad: Arnett, 1963; Crowson, 1981 (in English), Jeannel, 1949 (in French) and Freude, Harde & Lohse, 1964 (in German).

Adult and preimaginal morphology of water beetles of Russia

Andrei Lobanov, 1999


Bei-Biyenko, G.Ya. 1980.
General Entomology. Moscow, 416 p. (In Russian).

Dogiel, V.A., Yezhikov, I.I., Kuznetsov, N.Ya. 1951.
A Guide on Zoology. Vol. 3, Part 2. Invertebrates (..., insects, ...). State Publishing House, Moscow. 608 p. (In Russian).

Jacobson, G.G. 1905.
Introduction. Beetles of Russia and Western Europe. St. Petersburg, p. 1-176. (In Russian).

Krivolutskaya, G.O. 1989.
The Order Coleoptera. Key to the Insects of the Far East of the USSR, Leningrad, 3(1): 8-44. (In Russian).

Kryzhanovsky, O.L. 1965.
The Order Coleoptera. Introduction. Key to the Insects of the European USSR, Moscow, Leningrad, 2: 5-18. (In Russian).

Shvanvich, B.N. 1949.
A Course in General Entomology, Sovetskaya Nauka Publishing House, Moscow, Leningrad, 900 p. (In Russian).

Zakhvatkin, Yu.A. 1986.
A Course in General Entomology. Moscow, 320 p. (In Russian).

Arnett R.H.
The Beetles of the United States. - Washington, 1963. 1112 p.

Crowson R.A.
The Biology of the Coleoptera. - London, 1981. 802 p.

Freude H., Harde K.W., Lohse G.A.
Die Kaefer Mitteleuropas. Band 1. - Krefeld, 1964. 214 S.

Jeannel R., Paulian R. etc.
Traite de zoologie (puble sous la direction de Pierre-P. Grasse). Tome IX. Insectes. - Paris, 1949. 1118 p.

Ross H.H., Ross C.A. & Ross J.R.P. 1982.
A Textbook of Entomology. New York. 576 p.