Watch where you point those things

I call this the Madonna Beetle:

*update– over on facebook the Coleopterists chime in with relevant info. Henry Hespenheide notes:

They’re secondary sexual characters, possessed only by males. The species you’ve illustrated is a centrine barid – I’m not sure of the genus (possibly Geraeus) – but Bill Eberhard of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has published a paper on the related genus Parisoschoenus in which the males use the spines in male-male combat.

Mike Ivie continues:

There is a pit between the spines that the oponents spine goes into during the joust. Henry showed me the first one I ever saw in Bridger Canyon in about 1987.

Thus, as for Madonna, the spines are used in a display of sexual aggression.

For more info, see a recent paper by Davis & Engel.

photo details:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO200, f/13, 1/125 sec
Lit with 2 off-camera strobes
Armenia, Belize

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