tirsdag den 26. juni 2012
The strange case of the dog-loving shieldbearer
Crypto-entomologi is a fairly small field of study. Although I have never considered myself an entomologist, I have nurtured a growing interest in insects the last 5 or 6 years. I have even managed to rediscover a beetle everybody thought had died out in Denmark in the early 1990's, but nothing REALLY cryptozoological - until now that is. Some weeks ago I got an e-mail from a friend of a friend - well, you now how it goes. This person lives in southwestern Denmark, only about a mile from the german border. He had been out one day taking a walk, when he stumpled upon a very dead something - probably a fox or a dog. It stank to high heaven, and as could be expected, it was absolutely covered in flies. Most of these were blowflies of one species or another, and as such rather dull. But there was one that was rather special. It was fairly large, something like a centimeter, bluish black, none of which was remarkable in any way. But this thing also had a big round orange head! He described the fly as looking like it was ferrying a brightly coloured pearl around. At first I thought he had been imagining things, but suddenly something started to stir in a deep, dusty and slightly cobwebbed recess of my memory vaults. I had read something somewhere about a fly looking like that, and a fondness for althings dead and festering. Enter Thyreophora cynophila, the dog-loving shieldbearer. The name refers to a shield like outgrowth on the thorax of the males, and the fact that the first specimens were caught on a dead dog.Thyreophora does infact have this strange swollen and rather colourful head. This is were the spirit of cryptozoology rears its head and snorts, because Thyreophora has not been seen for something like 150 years!! Unfortunately my correspondant had no camera, and no menas of catching the fly, and he hasn't seen it since. But I have managed to dig up one other person who claims to have seen another one of these strange insects, although a couple of years ago. It intrigued him enought to try and make a drawing of it. Although I have seen the drawing, and he has promised me a copy, I still haven't received it, but I will publish it as soon as I do. What to do now? Is there really a supposedly extinct insect, awaiting rediscovery out there? And furthermore several hundred kilometers north of its former distribution? I don't know. I have visited the area and done a thorough search without any luck - but the danish summer have been rather cold, windy and generally dismal so far, and the insectlife has been less than overwhelming, so... Anyway - if the weather improves, I intend to go there and put out some nice juicy carcasses for the local insectlife to feast upon, and then hopefully catch a dog-loving shieldbearer.