Today's post is another invertebrate intervention just to remind you all how amazing our backbone-less wildlife really can be. The slime-shooting antics of the peripatus notwithstanding, there are plenty of examples of awesome slugs, bugs and critters that are found here in Aotearoa.
I wanted to write today's post about one of the more impressive bugs I'd seen - the giraffe weevil. This impressive beastie grows to nearly 9 centimetres long, and looks like something made out of leftover bits of broken toys...
But my story was stymied at the first hurdle, because apparently the New Zealand giraffe weevil isn't actually a weevil. There are several well-known examples of animals with inaccurate names - dolphin fish is probably a goodie...see also guinea pig (not a pig) and sea horse (not a horse), but I didn't know about the giraffe weevil. According to some sources, this "weevil" is in fact another kind of beetle (apparently weevils are beetles, but not all beetles are weevils). Gah! It does look similar to an actual giraffe weevil found in Madagascar, so maybe the first person to describe it just got confused and the name stuck...
No matter, I still think it's cool, so it can have some air time. I saw my first and only giraffe weevil/beetle on the railing of the platform in the Maungatautari reserve near Cambridge. Maungatautari is pretty awesome and has some fantastic wildlife, but in my fleeting visit there that day, I was most impressed by the giraffe weevil. Seriously! The size of it is impressive, but its snout is just awesome. If it were up to me, I would have named it for an anteater or an elephant - since it's the proboscis that makes it so impressive. When it comes to snouts, size must matter, and in the giraffe weevil/beetle's case, half the male’s length is its snout, which has a pair of antennae near the tip. You can identify the females because their antennae are about half way down.
It seems we Europeans may have got all confused when it came to naming the giraffe weevil/beetle, but Maori had it sussed. They clearly recognised the shape of a waka in the male giraffe weevil/beetle (which among other names they called tuwhaitara), and as such it features in Maori mythology as the god of a newly made waka.
So, there you go - giraffe weevils, not giraffes nor weevils - are another example of incredible invertebrate fauna. What about you guys - have you seen one?
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