Subject: Unusual beetle
Location: Murambi East suburb of Mutare, Manicaland, Zimbabwe
December 16, 2013 4:56 am
Hello,
Found a very unusual beetle this morning in a compost heap at the back of the garden. Have never seen anything like it before. Has a brilliant green “eye” on its brown carapace which shifts position depending on the direction of illumination. Has a most unusual white “snout” more like a platypus bill than a rhino horn. The beetle is about 3 centimeters long and moves quite fast.
Would be very interested to know what it is.
Thanks
Signature: Peter Lowenstein

Goliath Beetle:  Ranzania splendens petersiana

Regal Fruit Chafer: Ranzania splendens petersiana

Dear Peter,
This is truly a spectacular Scarab Beetle.  We struggled for some time with its identity, and we eventually found a matching photo on Beetles of Africa where it is identified as
Ranzania splendens petersiana.  The family is listed as Goliathini, though we believe that to be the tribe and the family to be Scarabaeidae.  Beetles of Africa indicates this lovely beetle is from Malawi and Zimbabwe and states:  “This beautiful shovel snout is a sap and fruit feeder.”  There are some beautiful photos of this species on InsectmaniaFlower Beetles.com has some information on breeding in captivity.

Dear Daniel,
Many thanks for your prompt reply with the positive identification and references. Looks like our emails with my notification of tentative identification by a local friend (copy attached) have crossed. The photos on Insectmania are indeed beautiful as is the creature.
I returned my specimen to the compost heap after taking several photos but was quite reluctant to do so. Am not therefore surprised to learn that they are bred in captivity.
Your assistance and interesting links very much appreciated.
Kind regards and best wishes,
Peter

Ed. Note:  The Crossed Email
Hi,
A friend here in Mutare has identified the beetle as Tauhrina Splendens –
using the book “Insects of South Africa” – copy of entry and photo attached.
Have done a Google Advanced Image Search on Taurhina Splendens which turned
up a website http://www.ispot.org.za/species_dictionary/Taurhina%20splendens
with a description and a photo of the beetle which looks similar to mine
(attached).
Thought I would let you know straight away for your information and records
and save you the job of searching for it.
Kind regards,
Peter

Ed. Note:  Regal Fruit Chafer
December 17, 2013
In attempting to identify another South African Scarab, we stumbled upon a nice image of the Regal Fruit Chafer on BioDiversity Explorer.

Location: Mutare, Manicaland, Zimbabwe

2 Responses to Regal Fruit Chafer from Zimbabwe: Ranzania splendens petersiana

  1. Mark says:

    Hi Peter, just for interests sake the range of Ranzania extends considerably beyond Zimbabwe, I caught one on the Mozambique coast in Tofo December 2010. Holding on to it while I got my phone and tape was a task, it’s strength was remarkable! This specimen was huge, and believe it or not measured 45mm from head to rear of abdomen and the widest part of the Elytra was 30mm across. I got it to stay stationary for a second while I placed it gently onto my open palm to photograph but it flew off before I was able! A great pity, apart from it’s magnificence, I would have appreciated being able to share it’s size with interested folk.

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