Importance of discovery of the first cave beetle Leptodirus hochenwartii Schmidt, 1832


Slavko Polak


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Publication Date

January 2009


Caves were not seriously considered as a habitat for the animals until 1831 when thefirst cave (troglobite) beetle was discovered in the Postojna cave. The 7 mm long troglomor-phic beetle was firstly described by Ferdinand Schmidt under the name Leptodirus hochen-wartii in the article “Contribution to the fauna of Carniola” which appeared in the Carniolianpaper Illyrisches Blatt,on 21st January 1832. During his systematic search for additional spe-cimens, Schmidt discovered a whole range of other cave animals but with exception of bee-tles he didn’t scientifically described them. Schmidt was in correspondences with quite someEuropean scientists and later many visited the Postojna and surrounding caves in the searchfor recently discovered reach subterranean fauna. In the years to follow, the new species ofcave beetles, spiders, pseudoscorpions, millipedes, centipedes, crustaceans and snails weredescribed by various naturalists, giving the Postojna cave the name a biospeleological Meccaand the birth place or cradle of a new biological science, the biospeleology or speleobiology.The reach subterranean fauna was later discovered in the other parts of Europe and otherContinents too, but the Postojna cave is absolute record-holder respecting the number ofknown troglobite species even today. The Leptodirus hochenwartii synonymy, recent taxo-nomy and the conservation issues are discussed in the paper.


Caves, Leptodirus, Postojna Cave

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ENDINS, Mallorca, Vol. 28 (2009-01-01).