National Geographic : 1959 May
Wanted! Titanus Beetles-Alive and in Good Condition. Reward! Signs posted throughout a mining camp in Amapa offered employees ten cents apiece for Titanus and less for Megasoma specimens. The posters paid dividends: workers brought in dozens. Here Dr. Zahl compares a preserved Titanus with the identification sketch. Chief mining engineer Howard G. Fleshman holds a hatful of Megasomas. to turn and bite the hand that feeds him. Ac cordingly, if I approached from behind and quickly and very firmly closed thumb and forefinger over the midriff, being careful at the same time to avoid underside thrashings of the six taloned feet, the creature could not harm me. Sometimes I even tied a string around my pet's thorax and led him about like a poodle on a leash. By precise measurement, this specimen was four and three-fourths inches long from jaw to abdomen tip, and one and three-fourths across at mid-body. Next to his armament of jaws and talons, the most impressive features of my brown bodied titan were his huge eyes curving around the base of each antenna and shimmer ing with countless tiny hexagonal facets. Eyes 660 of this sort-the so-called compound eyes pos sessed by most insects-are presumed to give their possessors extremely wide-angle vision and unique perception of pattern and detail.* Close to the end of each of the jointed legs were three flat pads, velvet to the touch, terminating in a double-pronged hook. Thus "snowshoed" for soft jungle moss and hooked for tree climbing, Titanus is admirably fitted for forest life. The creature displayed no desire to fly, al though folded under each of the two long, leathery elytra were yellowish wings, tissue thin and veined, and clearly functional. Nor would it accept any food I offered-meat, fruit, pastry, even woody materials. * See "Nature's Alert Eyes," by Constance P. Warner, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, April, 1959.