The Archostemata are the smallest suborder of beetles, consisting of fewer than 50 known species organised into five families. They are an ancient lineage with a number of primitive characteristics. They are similar in morphology to the first beetles, which appear in the fossil record about 250 million years ago. Antennae may be thread-shaped (filiform) or like a string of beads (moniliform). This suborder also contains the only paedogenic beetles, Micromalthus debilis.

These beetles are considered rare. Fossil deposits from the Permian suggest that the Archostemata were once much more common and dispersed over a wide portion of the globe, and the species that remain are scattered vestiges of their former population.

Tenomerga mucida01
Tenomerga mucida
Scientific classification

Kolbe, 1908



There are five extant families of Archostemata (Crowsoniellidae, Cupedidae, Jurodidae, Micromalthidae, and Ommatidae) and three extinct families (Triadocupedidae, Magnocoleidae, Obrieniidae).[1][a]

  • Subfamily Priacminae Crowson, 1962
  • †Subfamily Mesocupedinae Ponomarenko, 1969
  • Subfamily Cupedinae Laporte, 1836
  • †Subfamily Brochocoleinae Hong, 1982
  • Subfamily Tetraphalerinae Crowson, 1962
  • Subfamily Ommatinae Sharp and Muir, 1912
  • †Tribe Lithocupedini Ponomarenko, 1969
  • †Tribe Notocupedini Ponomarenko, 1966
  • Tribe Ommatini Sharp and Muir, 1912
  • Family Jurodidae Ponomarenko, 1985
  • †Family Triadocupedidae Ponomarenko, 1966
  • †Family Magnocoleidae Hong, 1998
  • †Family Obrieniidae Zherikhin and Gratshev, 1994
  • †Subfamily Kararhynchinae Zherikhin and Gratshev, 1994
  • †Tribe Kararhynchini Zherikhin and Gratshev, 1994
  • †Tribe Kenderlykaini Legalov, 2009
  • †Subfamily Obrieniinae Zherikhin and Gratshev, 1994

See also


  1. ^ † Denotes that the family-group is extinct


  1. ^ Patrice Bouchard; Yves Bousquet; Anthony E. Davies; Miguel A. Alonso-Zarazaga; John F. Lawrence; Chris H. C. Lyal; Alfred F. Newton; Chris A. M. Reid; Michael Schmitt; S. Adam Ślipiński; Andrew B. T. Smith (2011). "Family-group names in Coleoptera (Insecta)". ZooKeys. 88: 1–972. doi:10.3897/zookeys.88.807. PMC 3088472.

External links


Beetles are a group of insects that form the order Coleoptera, in the superorder Endopterygota. Their front pair of wings are hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. The Coleoptera, with about 400,000 species, is the largest of all orders, constituting almost 40% of described insects and 25% of all known animal life-forms; new species are discovered frequently. The largest of all families, the Curculionidae (weevils) with some 83,000 member species,

belongs to this order. Found in almost every habitat except the sea and the polar regions, they interact with their ecosystems in several ways: beetles often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are serious agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle, while others such as Coccinellidae (ladybirds or ladybugs) eat aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.

Beetles typically have a particularly hard exoskeleton including the elytra, though some such as the rove beetles have very short elytra while blister beetles have softer elytra. The general anatomy of a beetle is quite uniform and typical of insects, although there are several examples of novelty, such as adaptations in water beetles which trap air bubbles under the elytra for use while diving. Beetles are endopterygotes, which means that they undergo complete metamorphosis, with a series of conspicuous and relatively abrupt changes in body structure between hatching and becoming adult after a relatively immobile pupal stage. Some, such as stag beetles, have a marked sexual dimorphism, the males possessing enormously enlarged mandibles which they use to fight other males. Many beetles are aposematic, with bright colours and patterns warning of their toxicity, while others are harmless Batesian mimics of such insects. Many beetles, including those that live in sandy places, have effective camouflage.

Beetles are prominent in human culture, from the sacred scarabs of ancient Egypt to beetlewing art and use as pets or fighting insects for entertainment and gambling. Many beetle groups are brightly and attractively coloured making them objects of collection and decorative displays. Over 300 species are used as food, mostly as larvae; species widely consumed include mealworms and rhinoceros beetle larvae. However, the major impact of beetles on human life is as agricultural, forestry, and horticultural pests. Serious pests include the boll weevil of cotton, the Colorado potato beetle, the coconut hispine beetle, and the mountain pine beetle. Most beetles, however, do not cause economic damage and many, such as the lady beetles and dung beetles are beneficial by helping to control insect pests.


Blapsium is an extinct genus of beetles from the Jurassic period. The only described species is Blapsium egertoni. Samples have been found at the Taynton Limestone Formation, also known as the Stonesfield Slate.


Brochocoleus is an extinct genus of beetles in the family Ommatidae, known from the Early Jurassic to the Early Late Cretaceous. With the earliest fossils coming from the Sinemurian-Pliensbachian of Charmouth, England, while the latest species are known from the Cenomanian aged Burmese amber. 21 species are currently known:

†Brochocoleus alatus Ponomarenko, 1994

†Brochocoleus angustus Tan, Ren, & Shih, 2007

†Brochocoleus aphaleratus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Brochocoleus applanatus Tan & Ren, 2009

†Brochocoleus caseyi Jarzembowski, Wang, & Zheng, 2016

†Brochocoleus cossiphus Ponomarenko, 1994

†Brochocoleus crownsonae Jarzembowski, Yan, Wang, & Zhang, 2013

†Brochocoleus impressus (Ren, 1995)

†Brochocoleus indibili Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Brochocoleus keenani Jarzembowski, Yan, Wang & Zhang, 2013

†Brochocoleus magnus Tan & Ren, 2009

†Brochocoleus maximus Jarzembowski, Yan, Wang & Zhang, 2013

†Brochocoleus minor Ponomarenko, 2000

†Brochocoleus planus Ponomarenko, 1994

†Brochocoleus punctatus Hong, 1982 (type species)

†Brochocoleus rostratus Ponomarenko, 1999

†Brochocoleus sulcatus Tan, Ren, & Shih, 2007

†Brochocoleus tobini Jarzembowski, Yan, Wang, & Zhang, 2013

†Brochocoleus validus Tan & Ren, 2009

†Brochocoleus yangshuwanziensis Jarzembowski, Yan, Wang, & Zhang, 2013

†Brochocoleus zhiyuani Liu, Tan, Jarzembowski, Wang, Ren, & Pang, 2017


Cionocoleus is an extinct genus of beetles in the family Ommatidae, closely related to the living Omma containing the following species:

Cionocoleus longicapitis Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

Cionocoleus magicus Ren, 1995

Cionocoleus ommamimus Ponomarenko, 1997

Cionocoleus sibiricus Ponomarenko, 2000


The Crowsoniellidae are a monotypic family of beetles, in the suborder Archostemata. So far, only a single species, Crowsoniella relicta, has been attributed to this family. It is a minute animal (about 1.8 mm (0.071 in)) that was collected in central Italy from calcareous soil at the base of a chestnut tree. No other specimens have been found since.


The Cupedidae are a small family of beetles, notable for the square pattern of "windows" on their elytra (hard forewings), which give the family their common name of reticulated beetles.The family consists of about 30 species in 9 genera, with a worldwide distribution. Many more extinct species are known, dating as far back as the Triassic.These beetles tend to be elongated with a parallel-sided body, ranging in length from 10 to 20 mm, with colors brownish, blackish, or gray. The larvae are wood-borers, typically living in fungus-infested wood, and sometimes found in wood construction.Males of Priacma serrata (western North America) are notable for being strongly attracted to common household bleach. This suggests that compounds in bleach may resemble attractive compounds found by the beetle in nature.


Cupes is a genus of beetles in the family Cupedidae. The Cupedidae are typical “reticulate” or “net-winged” beetles with incompletely sclerotized elytra that produce the characteristic reticulate appearance.Cupes contains a single living species Cupes capitatus and a number of extinct species described from fossils dating from the Pliocene to the Paleocene. C. capitatus is native to eastern North America, while the fossils are described from China and Europe. C. capitatus adults are 7.8 mm (0.31 in) long on average with red to gray-brown body color and a bright orange head that is molded into several knobby protuberances.


The beetle family Jurodidae was originally described from fossils, but in 1996, a single species from the Russian Far East, described as Sikhotealinia zhiltzovae, was found and later was recognized to be a living representative of this otherwise extinct family (a "living fossil"). Since then, this beetle, known from only a single specimen, has been the source of contention, as it is reported to possess three ocelli on its forehead, a condition otherwise unknown in the entire order Coleoptera, whether extinct or living - though it is common in other orders, and generally considered a groundplan character for neopteran insects. If true, this species may represent the most archaic of all living beetles. However, other authorities have challenged this interpretation, and have further suggested that this beetle does not even belong to the Archostemata. This may not be possible to resolve until additional specimens are collected, allowing for genetic analysis.


Magnocoleidae is an extinct family of beetles in the suborder Archostemata. It was first described in 1998 by Hong, who attributes a single genus, Magnocoleus, to this family. The genus contains a single species Magnocoleus huangjiapuensis. The species was extanct during the Cretaceous between 130.0 and 125.45 Mya.


Myxophaga is the second smallest suborder of the Coleoptera after Archostemata, consisting of roughly 65 species of small to minute beetles in four families. The members of this suborder are aquatic and semiaquatic, and feed on algae.


Omma is a genus of beetles in the family Ommatidae. Omma is an example of a living fossil. The oldest species known, O. liassicum, lived during the final stage of the Triassic (Rhaetian), followed by several other species from Europe and Asia until after O. attenuatum from the Lower Cretaceous (lower Aptian), the genus then reappears in the Burmese amber during the Cenomanian, then disappears from the fossil record for the remaining 100 million years until today, with four species endemic in Australia.


The Ommatidae are a family of beetles in the suborder Archostemata. The Ommatidae are considered the extant beetle family that has most ancestral characteristics. Extant species of this group only occur in Australia and South America, but the geographical distribution was much wider during the Mesozoic spanning across modern day Europe, Siberia, Myanmar, and China. Discovery of Upper Jurassic Chinese and Upper Cretaceous Burmese fossils suggest that they were widespread during Pangea. So far, 13 extinct genera containing over 100 species of these beetles have been described. Two extant genera have been assigned to this family: Omma and Tetraphalerus.


Paracupes is a genus of beetles in the family Cupedidae, the reticulated beetles.

There are two extant species:

Paracupes ascius – Ecuador

Paracupes brasiliensis – BrazilThere is a fossil species:

†Paracupes svitkoi – United States


Priacma is a genus of beetles in the family Cupedidae. It contains a single extant species (P. serrata) and several fossil species.


Prolixocupes is a genus of beetles in the family Cupedidae. It contains two species, P. laterillei and P. lobiceps.

Telephone-pole beetle

The telephone-pole beetle (Micromalthus debilis) is a beetle native to the eastern United States, and the only living representative of the otherwise extinct family Micromalthidae (i.e., a "living fossil"). Classification of M. debilis was historically controversial and unsettled. The species, first reported by John Lawrence LeConte in 1878, was long considered one of the Polyphaga, and placed in the Lymexylidae or Telegeusidae, or as a family within the Cantharoidea. However, characteristics of larvae, wings, and male genitalia show that it is in the suborder Archostemata, where it has been placed since 1999.The beetle is elongated, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 mm in length, and a dark brown to blackish color, with brownish-yellow legs and antennae. The head is larger than the thorax, with large eyes protruding from either side. The larvae are wood-borers that feed on moist and decaying chestnut and oak logs. They have also been reported as causing damage to buildings and poles (hence the name). The life cycle is unusual in that the cerambycoid stage of the larva can either develop into an adult female, or give birth to caraboid larvae. The species has been spread to various parts of the world by human commerce, probably in timber.

Reports of the species are infrequent and it is unknown whether they are rare, or common and unrecognized. A recent study by Bertone et al 2016 found telephone-pole beetles in a survey of the indoor arthropod fauna in 50 houses located in and around Raleigh, North Carolina.


Tenomerga is a genus of beetles in the family Cupedidae. This genus has about 14 extant species.


Tetraphalerus is a genus of beetles in the family Ommatidae, containing the following species:

†Tetraphalerus antiquus Ponomarenko, 1964

†Tetraphalerus bontsaganensis Ponomarenko, 1997

†Tetraphalerus brevicapitis Pononarenko & Martinez-Delclos, 2000

†Tetraphalerus brevis Ponomarenko, 1964

Tetraphalerus bruchi Heller, 1913, recent

†Tetraphalerus collaris Ponomarenko, 1997

†Tetraphalerus fentaiensis (Ren, 1995)

†Tetraphalerus glabratus Ponomarenko, 1997

†Tetraphalerus grandis Ponomarenko, 1964

†Tetraphalerus incertus Ponomarenko, 1969

†Tetraphalerus laetus Lin Qibin, 1976

†Tetraphalerus largicoxa Lin Qibin, 1986

†Tetraphalerus longicollis Ponomarenko, 1997

†Tetraphalerus macilentus (Ren, 1995)

†Tetraphalerus maximus Ponomarenko, 1968

†Tetraphalerus mongolicus Ponomarenko, 1986

†Tetraphalerus notatus Ponomarenko, 1997

†Tetraphalerus okhotensis Ponomarenko in Cromov et al., 1993

†Tetraphalerus oligocenicus (Crowson, 1962)

†Tetraphalerus penalveri Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Tetraphalerus ponomarenkoi Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Tetraphalerus surrectus (Ren, 1995)

†Tetraphalerus tenuipes Ponomarenko, 1964

†Tetraphalerus verrucosus Ponomarenko, 1966

Tetraphalerus wagneri Waterhouse, 1901, recent


Zygadenia is an extinct genus of beetles in the family Ommatidae, containing the following species:

†Zygadenia brachycephalus (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia caducus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia caudatus (Ponomarenko, 1966)

†Zygadenia cellulosus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia crassus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia diazromerali Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia dundulaensis (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia elegans (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia excellens (Ponomarenko, 1966)

†Zygadenia exiguus (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia foersteri (Ponomarenko, 1971)

†Zygadenia homorus (Lin, 1986)

†Zygadenia huangyadiensis (Wang & Liu, 1996)

†Zygadenia issykkulensis (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia khetanensis (Ponomarenko in Cromov et al., 1993)

†Zygadenia kirghizicus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia laetus (Lin, 1976)

†Zygadenia laiyangensis (Hong, 1990)

†Zygadenia lapidarius (Ponomarenko, 1968)

†Zygadenia laticella (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia latus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia lentus (Ren, 1995)

†Zygadenia longicollis (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia longicoxa Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia martinclosas Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia mongolicus (Ponomarenko, 1994)

†Zygadenia multituberatus (Lin, 1980)

†Zygadenia nigromonticola (Ponomarenko, 1968)

†Zygadenia oculata Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia oxypygus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia patulus Ponomarenko, 1985

†Zygadenia picturatus (Ponomarenko, 1964)

†Zygadenia pulcher (Ponomarenko, 1968)

†Zygadenia reticulatus (Oppenheim, 1888)

†Zygadenia rostratus (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia semen (Ponomarenko, 2000)

†Zygadenia semen Ponomarenko, 2000

†Zygadenia sibirica Ponomarenko, 2000

†Zygadenia siniestri Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia sinitzae Ponomarenko, 2000

†Zygadenia sogutensis (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia tenuis (Ponomarenko, 1969)

†Zygadenia trachylenus (Ren, 1995)

†Zygadenia tripartitus (Oppenheim, 1888)

†Zygadenia tuanwangensis (Hong, 1990)

†Zygadenia tuberculata Handlirsch, 1906

†Zygadenia tuberculatus (Giebel, 1856)

†Zygadenia undatabdominus (Lin, 1980)

†Zygadenia viridis Soriano & Delclòs, 2006

†Zygadenia vitimensis (Ponomarenko, 1966)

Extant Coleoptera families


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