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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Coleopterida
Ordo: Coleoptera
Subordo: Adephaga

Familia: Aspidytidae
Genera (1): Aspidytes

Aspidytidae Ribera, Beutel, Balke & Vogler, 2002
Type genus: Aspidytes Ribera, Beutel, Balke & Vogler, 2002

Primary references

Ribera, I., Beutel, R.G., Balke, M. & Vogler, A.P. 2002. Discovery of Aspidytidae, a new family of aquatic Coleoptera. Proceedings of the Royal Society (B) 269: 2351–2356. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2157 Paywall. PDF, PDF

Additional references

Alarie, Y. & Bilton, D.T. 2005. Larval morphology of Aspidytidae (Coleoptera: Adephaga) and its phylogenetic implications. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 98: 417–430. DOI: 10.1603/0013-8746(2005)098[0417:LMOACA]2.0.CO;2 PDF
Balke, M., Ribera, I. & Beutel, R.G. 2005. The systematic position of Aspidytidae, the diversification of Dytiscoidea (Coleoptera, Adephaga) and the phylogenetic signal of third codon positions. Journal of Zoological Systematics & Evolutionary Research 43: 223–242. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0469.2005.00318.x
Beutel, R.G., Balke, M. & Ribera, I. 2010. 3.1. Aspidytidae Ribera, Beutel, Balke and Vogler, 2002. Pp. 21-28 in: Leschen, R.A.B., Beutel, R.G. & Lawrence, J.F. (volume eds.) Coleoptera, beetles. Volume 2: Morphology and systematics (Elateroidea, Bostrichiformia, Cucujiformia partim). In: Kristensen, N.P. & Beutel, R.G. (eds.) Handbook of zoology. A natural history of the phyla of the animal kingdom. Volume IV. Arthropoda: Insecta. Part 38. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3110190753 ISBN 9783110190755
Michat, M.C., Alarie, Y., Jia, F., Xu, S., Hájek, J., Balke, M. 2014. Description of the second and third instars of Aspidytes wrasei Balke, Ribera & Beutel, 2003, with comments on the identification of larvae of Aspidytes Ribera, Beutel, Balke & Vogler, 2002 (Coleoptera: Aspidytidae), and phylogenetic considerations. Zootaxa 3881(4): 362–372. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3881.4.4 Paywall. Reference page.
Nilsson, A.N. & van Vondel, B.J. 2005. Amphizoidae, Aspidytidae, Haliplidae, Noteridae and Paelobiidae (Coleoptera, Adephaga). World Catalogue of Insects 7. Stenstrup: Apollo Books.


The Aspidytidae Page
Catalogue of Life: 2010 Annual Checklist [no record]

Vernacular names
English: Cliff water beetles
русский: Аспидитиды
中文: 壁甲科

Aspidytidae is a family of aquatic beetles of the suborder Adephaga, described in 2002 from specimens in South Africa and China.[2] There are only two known species in the family and these were originally described in the genus Aspidytes,[2][3] but later the new genus Sinaspidytes was erected for the species found in China.[4] The family can also be referred to by its trivial name cliff water beetles. [5]


Cliff water beetles have a streamlined body that is dorsally convex. Their size ranges from 4.8 - 7.0 mm in length. Dorsal side is predominantly black and cuticle is shiny.[3] The head is laterally rounded and shortened with the compound eyes integrated in the outline. Legs lack swimming hairs.[2]
Known species of Aspidytidae

Aspidytes niobe - known from South Africa. Body length 6.5 - 7.2 mm [2]

Sinaspidytes wrasei - has only been found at one location in the Shaanxi province, China. Body length 4.8 – 5.2 mm. [6]
Biology and ecology

Larvae and adults of both A. niobe and S. wrasei are found in or in close proximity of hygropetric habitats[3] - meaning they require a rock surface covered by a thin layer of water. Both adults and larvae are likely predacious. Eggs and pupa are yet unknown.[3]
Phylogeni and evolution

The phylogenetic placement of Aspidytidae within the superfamily Dytiscoideais is still under debate, and even whether the family is monophyletic or paraphyletic with respect to Amphizoidae.

Initially both species were categorized in the same genus – Aspidytes. Later Sinaspidytes was erected for S. wrasei following a phylogenetic analysis using 11 genes that recovered Aspidytidae as praphyletic. [4]

Sinaspidytes wrasei

Aspidytes niobe

Amphizoa insolens

Amphizoa lecontei

Later studies using genomic data have been inconclusive. A study using ultraconserved elements (UCE) still recovered Aspidytidae as paraphyletic, but with a different arrangement between the two species and Amphizoidae. [7]

Aspidytes niobe

Sinaspidytes wrasei

Amphizoa insolens

Amphizoa lecontei

However, two of the latest studies using genomic data do recover a monophyletic Aspidytidae. [8] [9]

Aspidytes niobe

Sinaspidytes wrasei

Amphizoa insolens

Amphizoa lecontei


"Aspidytidae". National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Retrieved 14 January 2021.
Ribera, I.; Beutel, R.G.; Balke, M.; Vogler, A.P. (2002). "Discovery of Aspidytidae, a new family of aquatic Coleoptera". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 269: 2351–2356. doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2157. PMC 1691161. PMID 12495503.
Beutel, R.G., Balke, M. & Ribera, I. (2016) 7.7. Aspidytidae Ribera,Beutel, Balke and Vogler, 2002. In: Beutel, R.G. & Leschen, R.A.B. (eds.): "Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta. Coleoptera, Beetles. Vol. 1: Morphology and Systematics" (Archostemata, Adephaga, Myxophaga, Polyphaga partim). 2nd Edition. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin. pp. 141-149.
Toussaint, Emmanuel F. A.; Beutel, Rolf G.; Morinière, Jérôme; Jia, Fenglong; Xu, Shengquan; Michat, Mariano C.; Zhou, Xin; Bilton, David T.; Ribera, Ignacio; Hájek, Jiří; Balke, Michael. "Molecular phylogeny of the highly disjunct cliff water beetles from South Africa and China (Coleoptera: Aspidytidae)". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 176 (3): 537–546. doi:10.1111/zoj.12332.
Nilsson, Anders N.; van Vondel, Bernhard J. (2005-01-01). Amphizoidae, Aspidytidae, Haliplidae, Noteridae and Paelobiidae (Coleoptera, Adephaga). BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-47339-3.
Balke, M., Ribera, I. & Beutel, R. G. 2002 "Aspidytidae: on the discovery of a new family of beetles and a key to fossil and extant adephagan families." In Water beetles of China, vol. 3 (ed. M. A. Jäch & L. Ji). Vienna: Zoologisch-Botanische Gesellschaft in O ¨ sterreich and Wiener Coleopterologenverein (In the press.)
Baca, Stephen M.; Gustafson, Grey T.; Alexander, Alana M.; Gough, Harlan M.; Toussaint, Emmanuel F. A. "Integrative phylogenomics reveals a Permian origin of Adephaga beetles". Systematic Entomology. 46 (4): 968–990. doi:10.1111/syen.12506. ISSN 0307-6970.
Vasilikopoulos, Alexandros; Balke, Michael; Beutel, Rolf G.; Donath, Alexander; Podsiadlowski, Lars; Pflug, James M.; Waterhouse, Robert M.; Meusemann, Karen; Peters, Ralph S.; Escalona, Hermes E.; Mayer, Christoph. "Phylogenomics of the superfamily Dytiscoidea (Coleoptera: Adephaga) with an evaluation of phylogenetic conflict and systematic error". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 135: 270–285. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2019.02.022.
Vasilikopoulos, Alexandros; Balke, Michael; Kukowka, Sandra; Pflug, James M.; Martin, Sebastian; Meusemann, Karen; Hendrich, Lars; Mayer, Christoph; Maddison, David R.; Niehuis, Oliver; Beutel, Rolf G. "Phylogenomic analyses clarify the pattern of evolution of Adephaga (Coleoptera) and highlight phylogenetic artefacts due to model misspecification and excessive data trimming". Systematic Entomology. 46 (4): 991–1018. doi:10.1111/syen.12508. ISSN 0307-6970.

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