Rare beetle discovered in Mt. Hamiguitan sanctuary

Rare beetle discovered in Mt. Hamiguitan sanctuary

A RARE long-horned beetle, Paraskeletodes hamiguitanensis, has been discovered in the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) in Davao Oriental, according to a Facebook post by the Department of Natural Resources-Davao Region (DENR-Davao) on January 17, 2024.

Named after the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Hamiguitan Range, the beetle was found during a scientific expedition initiated by the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental. 

The expedition, conducted by a team from Davao Oriental State University (DOrSU), resulted in the discovery of the female-type specimen on June 10, 2023.

Dr. Milton Medina, a Filipino coleopterist, confirmed the uniqueness of P. hamiguitanensis, which is found in the Philippines, through careful morphological examination, noting distinct differences in pronotum, forelegs, and elytra compared to the closely related P. gracilis Aurivillius, which is found in Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

The discovery highlights the limited knowledge of beetle taxonomy in the Philippines, with Dr. Medina noting the underfunding of taxonomy efforts. 

The lack of expeditions often leads to species disappearing before thorough descriptions can be made.

“Notably, P. gracilis, described in 1927, remains undiscovered since its original documentation. The identification of P. hamiguitanensis underscores a noteworthy biogeographic correlation between the Philippines and Sulawesi, both acknowledged as biodiversity hotspots. These findings advocate for heightened global scientific and conservation efforts in these archipelagic nations,” DENR-Davao wrote in their post.

Concerns were raised about the global trade of beetle species, with local collectors using online platforms, and the rapid loss of forest cover in the Philippines adding urgency. 

The DENR-Davao stressed the vital role of protected areas, like Mt. Hamiguitan, as essential sanctuaries for biodiversity.

Medina and fellow researchers emphasized the need for cooperation with DENR-Davao in processing Gratuitous Permits and promoting biodiversity conservation. 

Medina encouraged young scholars to explore beetle taxonomy and highlighted DOrSU's openness to partnerships and collaborations.

In addition to P. hamiguitanensis, several other beetle species were identified in Mt. Hamiguitan, including including Borneogrammus hamiguitanus Barsevskis & Torrejos, 2023, Metapocyrtus bronsi Patano et al., 2020, and Metapocyrtus poncei Cabras & Medina, 2021,  underscoring the area's rich biodiversity. 

Ongoing research aims to describe more species, with experts believing there are likely many undiscovered species in the region. RGP


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