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Cupes capitatus Fabricius 1801

Thomas Hörnschemeyer
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Containing group: Cupedidae


With c. 7.8 mm length and c. 2.2 mm width C. capitatus is a comparatively small cupedid. Today the species can be found in eastern North America, from south-eastern Ontario (Canada) to Georgia (USA). Until the ice ages the distribution was much wider, as fossil finds from the Baltic Amber and from the Pliocene sediments of Willershausen (northern Germany) indicate (Gersdorf 1976).

The larvae of this species as well as the life cycle and the preferred food source are unknown.

Until Neboiss (1984) most cupedid species were put together in the genus Cupes Fabricius, 1801. In his “Reclassification of Cupes …” Neboiss (1984: title) described five new genera (Tenomerga, Distocupes, Adinolepis, Ascioplaga, Rhipsideigma), to which he distributed the species previous belonging to Cupes. Only the type species Cupes capitatus remained in this genus.


Besides its comparatively small size a very characteristic feature of C. capitatus is its coloration. The head is bright orange whereas the rest of the animal, including the legs and antennae, is reddish to greyish brown without any pattern. The visual colors are those of the scales that densely cover the otherwise dark brown cuticle. Another characteristic feature are the conspicuous dorsal protuberances on the head. They are quite large and erect. The anterior pair is conical whereas the posterior pair is distinctly elongate.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

According to Hörnschemeyer (2009) Cupes capitatus forms a monophyletic group together with the African Tenomerga leucophaea and the Madagascan genus Rhipsideigma.


Fabricius, J. C. 1801. Systema Eleutheratorum. Kiliae, 2: 66-67.

Gersdorf, E. 1976. Dritter Beitrag u?ber Käfer (Coleoptera) aus dem Jungtertiär von Willershausen, Bl. Northeim 4226. Geologisches Jahrbuch A 36: 103-145.

Hörnschemeyer, T., 2009. The species-level phylogeny of archostematan beetles - where do Micromalthus debilis and Crowsoniella relicta belong? Systematic Entomology 34(3): 533-558.

Neboiss, A. 1984. Reclassification of Cupes Fabricius (s.lat.), with descriptions of new genera and species (Cupedidae: Coleoptera). Systematic Entomology 9: 443-477.

Title Illustrations
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Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Scientific Name Cupes capitatus
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Life Cycle Stage adult
View dorsal
Copyright ©
Scientific Name Cupes capitatus
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Life Cycle Stage adult
Body Part head, prothorax
View lateral
Copyright ©
About This Page

University Göttingen, Institute for Zoology & Anthropology, Dept. Morphology & Systematics

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Thomas Hörnschemeyer at

Page: Tree of Life Cupes capitatus Fabricius 1801. Authored by Thomas Hörnschemeyer. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Hörnschemeyer, Thomas. 2010. Cupes capitatus Fabricius 1801. Version 17 December 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Cupes_capitatus/66467/2010.12.17 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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