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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Aspidytidae (cliff water beetles)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola > Holometabola > Coleoptera (beetles) > Suborder: Adephaga

This new family was established when a new genus and species, Aspidytes niobe, was found and morphological and DNA characters indicated that it had no living relatives. This relic group resembles Jurassic-Cretaceous fossil species and occurs in mountain rivers of the Western Cape in South Africa. Aspidytidae beetles are specifically adapted for a life in rivers, in crevices and on wet rock faces behind algae with just a trickling film of water running over them.

Aspidytidae, Aspidytes niobe


Aspidytes niobe, 6-7mm. [image by D. Bilton , with permission].




  • Ribera, I., Beutel, R.G., Balke, M. & Vogler, A.P. 2002. Discovery of Aspidytidae, a new family of aquatic Coleoptera. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 269: 2351-2356.

 Page by Margie Cochrane