Aug 16, 2013


Further to my previous post about a visit to the depths of the Bulawayo Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe, I thought I'd post some of the images from the entomology section.

Stick Insect now called Ischnaphasma leopoldi (changed from Palophus leopoldi) Collected from Zambia in 1968. These stick insects are also common in Zimbabwe and measure about 40cm head to tail (excluding out stretched front legs).

At one point, if I remember correctly it was in the mid-1980s, the Museum, boasting one of the biggest collections of insects traded roughly a quarter of it for two carved soapstone birds recovered from Great Zimbabwe, an historic site thought to date back to the 11th century. Nevertheless, the trade still left the museum with an impressive and scientifically significant collection. 

A mantid (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi) collected by a 'Mrs Noble of Salisbury'. Collected in Ramsgate, South Natal coast on 12 November 1979

Included in in the collection are a number of type specimens. Type specimens are those individual specimens from which further specie descriptions originate. Thus the type specimen is like an anchor or prototype that helps to centralise the defining features. Although the scientific name of every taxon is almost always based on one particular specimen, or in some cases specimens, it is important to note that there is no requirement for a "typical" individual to be used. Thus, the term 'name-bearing type' or onomatophore is sometimes used, to denote the fact that biological types do not neccessarily define "typical" individuals. Mimacraea neokoton is one such specimen, a type specimen collected in December 1955 from the Chirinda Forest, NE Zimbabwe.
Type specimen of Mimacraea neokoton from the Chirinda Forest in Zimbabwe

Goliath beetle (Goliathus meleagris). Collected in Elizabethville, Congo (Zaire) in January 1912.


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