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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: Polyphaga
Infraordo: Scarabaeiformia
Superfamilia: Scarabaeoidea

Familia: Scarabaeidae
Subfamilia: Scarabaeinae
Tribus: Scarabaeini
Genus: Sceliages
Species (7): S. adamastor – S. augias – S. brittoni – S. difficilis – S. gagates – S. granulatus – S. hippias

Sceliages Westwood, 1837

Type species: Sceliages iopas Westwood, 1837 [=Ateuchus adamastor Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau & Serville, 1828] by monotypy.


Scarabaeus (Sceliages)

Primary references

Westwood 1837: [Untitled communication.] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 5: 12–13. BHL [first availability, see p. 12]

Additional references

Forgie, S.A.; Grebennikov, V.V.; Scholtz, C.H. 2002: Revision of Sceliages Westwood, a millipede-eating genus of southern African dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Invertebrate systematics 16(6): 931–955. DOI: 10.1071/IT01025 Reference page.
Forgie, S.A.; Philips, T.K.; Scholtz, C.H. 2005: Evolution of the Scarabaeini (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Systematic entomology 30(1): 60–96. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2004.00273.x Reference page.


Schoolmeesters, P. 2017. Scarabs: World Scarabaeidae Database (version Jul 2016). In: Roskov Y., Abucay L., Orrell T., Nicolson D., Bailly N., Kirk P., Bourgoin T., DeWalt R.E., Decock W., De Wever A., Nieukerken E. van, Zarucchi J., Penev L., eds. 2017. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life, 30th January 2017. Digital resource at Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-8858. Reference page. [accessed on April 7, 2017]

Sceliages, Westwood, ('σκέλος' = leg), is a sub-genus of the Scarabaeus dung beetles, and are obligate predators of spirostreptid, spirobolid and julid millipedes, having renounced the coprophagy for which they were named. The genus is near-endemic to Southern Africa, Sceliages augias exceptionally ranging as far north as the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Currently seven species are recognised

Sceliages adamastor LePeletier & Serville, 1828 - Cape, Orange Free State
Sceliages augias Gillet, 1908 - Zambia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo
Sceliages brittoni Zur Strassen, 1965 - Cape
Sceliages difficilis Zur Strassen, 1965 - Zimbabwe, Natal, Transvaal, Gauteng
Sceliages gagates Shipp, 1895 - Mozambique, Natal, Eastern Cape, Eswatini
Sceliages granulatus Forgie & Grebennikov & Scholtz, 2002 - Northern Cape, Botswana
Sceliages hippias Westwood, 1844 - Natal, Transvaal, Mpumalanga[1][2]

Sceliages adamastor

The sacred scarab, Scarabaeus sacer Linnaeus (1758), was once idolised by ancient Egyptians as the incarnation of the god Khepri, who guided the sun’s path across the heavens. The Scarabaeini may have evolved with other scarabaeines during the Cenozoic, stemming from lineages originating in the Lower Cretaceous or possibly as far back as the Lower Jurassic some 180–200 million years ago. Westwood felt that Ateuchus adamastor (Sceliages adamastor) did not differ enough from Scarabaeus (by an extra pait of spurs on the tibia) to merit generic separation.[3]

Sceliages species have developed special adaptations to disarticulate millipedes - such as the shape of the clypeal margin, in particular the two front ‘teeth’, and the middle legs. The curvature of the meso tibiae is most evident in S. adamastor, fitting snugly around the circumference of the larger spirobolid, spirostreptid and julid millipedes. The adult male or female beetle straddles the subdued millipede and locks onto it particularly with the mid legs, and uses the front clypeal teeth to prise apart the ring segments of the millipede. Front legs assist in this operation, but the main work is done by the front clypeal teeth. The viscera or gut contents, the legs, and some bits of chitin are then used to form some 1-3 brood-balls depending on the size of the millipede. Brood-balls are prepared in a chamber underground and segment rings are discarded into the burrow. The brood-balls, each with one egg, are coated with a compacted layer of clayey soil to prevent desiccation, and are watched over by the female. Some Cephalodesmius species from Australia introduce additional food supplies as the larva develops, but this is not the case with Sceliages.

Sceliages species consume only millipedes (Diplopoda). Utilisation of millipedes by the Scarabaeinae can be both facultative and obligate, and has been documented since 1966, while active predation is recognised in Sceliages and Deltochilum species. Sceliages species are alerted to the presence of injured or freshly-killed millipedes by the smell of quinone-based defensive allomones - the millipedes are then pushed to a suitable site, buried and turned into pear-shaped, soil-encrusted brood-balls. In one observation in Namaqualand a Sceliages brittoni beetle was drawn to a millipede attacked by large reduviid bugs, Ectricodia crux. The beetle wrestled the injured millipede away from the reduviids and then buried it.[4]


R. & E. Stronkhorst. "Sceliages Westwood" (PDF). Dung beetles of Africa.
Forgie, Shaun A.; Grebennikov, Vasily V.; Scholtz, Clarke H. (2002). "Revision of Sceliages Westwood, a millipede-eating genus of southern African dung beetles (Coleoptera : Scarabaeidae)" (PDF). Invertebrate Systematics. 16 (6): 931–955. doi:10.1071/IT01025.
Westwood, J. O. (1841). "Descriptions of several new Species of Insects belonging to the Family of the Sacred Beetles". Transactions of the Zoological Society of London. 2 (2): 155–164. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1839.tb00015.x. hdl:2027/hvd.32044107191256.
R. & E. Stronkhorst. "Ecology". Dung beetles of Africa.

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