I found this beetle in Buena Vista, Panama. His body was about 8 cm long, but the front legs were enormous. He made a funny grinding noise when you would pick him up. Like those old-fashioned, wind-up toys that sounded like grinding metal. Can you tell me what he is?
Our friend Monica from Switzerland just mailed us a beautiful book called Living Jewels by Poul Beckmann, and plate 28, Acrocinus longimanus, is a dead ringer for your beetle. The book lists it from Peru, and BugGuide pictures a specimen from Ecuador.
Update from David Gracer (05/31/2006)
Longhorn Beetle from Panama: Acrocinus longimanus
The larvae of this species is eaten throughout much of Mexico and South America; like that of other big Cerambycids (Macrodontia, for example), such a meal would be both good-sized and, one might say, expensive. The grubs are large, and the adults that the larvae would otherwise become would fetch considerable sums of money as mounted specimens. Also worth noting: insects that feature complete metamorphosis – beetles, lepidopterans, flies, etc – are far more often consumed in the last-instar larval and pupal stages than the adult stage. The previous stages have a lot more protein and fats, which provide the fuel necessary to transform the insect into the imago stage (and would therefore make the potential food item more desirable in terms of both taste and nutrition.)