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Beetles are arguably the most diverse organisms in the world, with nearly half a million beetle species described and catalogued in our museums, more than any other type of living thing. This astonishing species diversity is matched by a similar diversity in shape, form, size, life history, ecology, physiology and behaviour.
Beetles occur everywhere, and do everything. And yet they form a clearly discrete insect group, typically characterised by their attractively compact form, with flight wings folded neatly under smooth hard wing-cases. Almost anyone could recognise a beetle, indeed many are intimately associated with human society. Groups like ladybirds are familiar to us from a very young age. Large stag beetles and handsome chafers are celebrated for their imposing size and bright colours. The sacred scarabs of the ancient Egyptians were given iconic, if not god-like, status and even though the exact religious meanings may be fading after three millennia, their bewitching jewellery and monumental statuary inspire us still.
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