Brain Food: Rare Beetle Caught on Camera in Citizen Science Project

Aug 31, 2017

Citizen Science Projects involve a lot of data recording, and you don’t necessarily expect to find anything startling or new. But Forest Service ranger Arthur Gonzales did when he was on a hike with his family near Williams. He was taking photos for a public project on the Kaibab National Forest to document plants and animals when he came across a rare beetle. 

The Typocerus Gloriosus beetle
Credit Arthur Gonzales/iNaturalist

"It’s about an inch-and-a-half long, beautiful colorations—yellow, black coloring. Neither of us are experts at beetles, but we knew it was something we had never seen before,” says Gonzales.

Gonzales had found a rare Typoserus Gloriosa. He posted it to the online platform iNaturalist and a beetle expert in Germany responded. Turns out the photo is the first of the beetle in scientific literature.

Forest Service ranger Arthur Gonzales and his family. He found a rare Typoserus Gloriosa beetle on the Kaibab National Forest.
Credit Art Gonzales/Kaibab National Forest

"What I did find out is that it was identified in 1922 and then 1976 there was only five known specimens for them to review and use to do the identifications, but no photos outside of the specimens that they had in 1976," Gonzales says.

The Typoserus Gloriosa is endemic to the Colorado Plateau and can be found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. But there haven’t been many field observations of the beetle. Gonzales submitted the picture to the Kaibab Citizen Science Project to add to the record of this elusive, colorful beetle.

"You don’t have to be experts. This is living proof. I didn’t know we had such a rare beetle. But this iNaturalist platform provides that kind of general global expertise to help identify these things," Gonzales says.