Rare Beetle Found at Orapa Diamond Mine

Rare Beetle Found at Orapa Diamond Mine
Pic courtesy University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

A rare species of beetle, dating back 90 million years, has been found at Orapa, the world’s biggest diamond mine, in Botswana, shedding light on the evolutionary history of beetles.

The Paleothius mckayi is a member of the staphylinie rove beetle family, which play a crucial role in controlling pest populations and breaking down organic matter.

“This discovery tells us that these types of beetles were not just present but thriving alongside dinosaurs, and they haven’t changed much over millions of years,” said researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

They say the fossil they found of the staphylinine rove beetle is the first in Africa and indeed the entire Southern Hemisphere.

Orapa, which started commercial production in 1971, produced 8.7m carats in 2021 and is owned Debswana,the joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government.

“This beetle is a clue into the long, intricate history of life on Earth,” said the research team, led by postdoctoral fellow Dr Sandiso Mngun, “showing us how interconnected and unchanged some life forms have been over the ages and highlights the success of rove beetles in adapting to various environments without significant changes to their morphology”.

They say the findings so far pave the way for future discoveries at Orapa.

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