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Cleide Costa and Sergio Antonio Vanin
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Containing group: Byrrhoidea


Cneoglossidae, monogeneric to Cneoglossa Guérin-Méneville, 1849, a Neotropical genus with nine known species distributed from Mexico to Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), is represented by very small beetles (3-5 mm in length) with soft integument, dark elytra, and a bicolored pronotum concealing partially the head when seen from above (Costa et al., 1999, 2005).

Adults are usually attracted to lights at night. The only known larvae of Cneoglossa (C. edsoni) were collected in a small shallow stream, with moderate to fast running water and muddy or sandy bottoms, depending on the declivity of hill sides. The water was clear and slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.2). The cneoglossid larvae were found inside submerged rooting brushwood, together with some larvae of Lutrochidae (Lutrochus germari Grouvelle, 1889) and Elmidae (Macrelmis sp.) (Costa et al., 1999).


Based on (Costa et al., 1999, 2005)





Guérin-Méneville (1843) included Cneoglossa within the Dascillidae, but this is a nomen nudum, since C. collaris (type-species of Cneoglossa) was formally described by him only in 1849. Champion (1897) sustained the systematic position and erected the tribe Cneoglossini. Crowson (1972) transferred it to the Cantharoidea, including it in his new family Cneoglossidae. Lawrence (1982) followed Crowson’s (l. c.) ideas, but latter (1988) he included it in his Psephenoidea (Psephenidae, Callirhipidae, Eulichadidae, Cneoglossidae, Ptilodactylidae and Chelonariidae). Lawrence & Britton (1991) transferred Cneoglossidae to Byrrhoidea plus Psephenoidea of Lawrence (1988).


(based on Costa et al., 1999)


Relationships of Cneoglossidae to Other Beetles

Lawrence et al. (1995) presented a cladistic analysis of the Elateriformia plus Scirtoidea. The authors considered Psephenidae as the sister group of Cneoglossidae, including both in their expanded Byrrhoidea. Lawrence & Newton (1995) placed Cneoglossidae within Byrrhoidea, suggesting a position near Ptilodactylidae or Psephenidae. Beutel (1995), in a cladistic analysis of Elateriformia based only on morphological structures of immatures stages, emphasized the characters transformation of the head which according to him play a predominant role in the evolution, but did not present a new classification of that series.

Costa et al. (1999) in a cladistics analysis of Byrrhoidea pointed out a sister-group relationship between Cneoglossidae and Psephenidae supported by the presence, in adults, of paired glandular openings on abdominal tergites. The same sister-group relationship was evidenced by Lawrence et al. (1995).

Larvae of Cneoglossa (C. edsoni) are very similar to larvae of species of Anchytarsinae and Epilichinae (Ptylodactylidae). However, according to the cladistic analyses conducted by Costa et al. (1999), this resemblance (v.g. presence of paired pygopodium with apical hooks and osmoregulatory organs) is interpreted as the result of homoplasies shared by aquatic larvae of distinct and independent lineages, subject to convergent adaptations to life in fast running waters.

Other Names for Cneoglossa


Beutel, R. G. 1995. Phylogenetic analysis of Elateriformia (Coleoptera: Polyphaga) based on larval characters. J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res. 33(4):145-171.

Champion, G. C. 1897. Fam. Dascillidae, p. 586-662, pls. 26-27. In Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta, Coleoptera, Serricornia. London, Taylor & Francis, v. 3, pt. 1, xvi + 690 p., 27 tabs.

Costa, C.; S. A. Vanin & S. Ide. 1999. Systematics and bionomics of Cneoglossidae with cladistics analysis of Byrrhoidea sensu Lawrence & Newton (1995) (Coleoptera Elateriformia). Arquivos de Zoologia, São Paulo, 35 (3): 231-300.

Costa, C.; S. A. Vanin & S. Ide. 2005. 16.8. Cneoglossidae, p. 533-536, 8 figs. In: R. G. Beutel & R. A. B. Leschen (eds.). Handbook of Zoology / Handbuch der Zoology, Volume / Band IV Arthropoda: Insecta, Part / Teilband 38, Coleoptera: Evolution and Systematics (Archostemata, Myxophaga, Polyphaga part). Jena, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.

Crowson, R. A. 1972. A review of classification of Cantharoidea (Coleoptera), with the definition of two new families, Cneoglossidae and Omethidae. Revta Univ. Madr. 21(82):35-77.

Guérin-Méneville, F. É. 1843. Note sur un groupe naturel ou une petite tribu de coléoptères de la famille des Malacodermes. Revue zool. 6 (7):193-194.

Guérin-Méneville, F. É. 1849. Spécies et iconographie générique des animaux articulés ou représentation des genres avec leur description et celle de toutes les espèces de cette grande division du règne animal...I. Coléoptères. Paris, auteur, v. 9, p. 1.

Lawrence, J. F. 1982. Coleoptera, p. 482-553. In S. P. Parker (ed.). Synopsis and classification of living organisms. New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., v. 2, 1232 p., pls. 88-141.

Lawrence, J. F. 1988. Rhinorhipidae, a new beetle family from Australia, with comments on the phylogeny of Elateriformia. Invert. taxon. 2(1987):1-53.

Lawrence, J. F. & E. B. Britton. 1991. Coleoptera (Beetles), ch. 35, p. 543-683. In CSIRO Division of Entomology (ed.). The insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Carlton, Melbourne University Press, 2nd edition, v. 2, i-vi + 543-1137 p.

Lawrence, J. F. & A. F. Newton, Jr. 1995. Families and subfamilies of Coleoptera (with selected genera, notes, references and data on family-group names), p. 779-1092. In J. Pakaluk & S. A. Slipinski (eds.). Biology, phylogeny, and classification of Coleoptera: papers celebrating the 80th birthday of Roy A. Crowson. Warszawa, Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, v. 2, i-vi + 559-1092 p.

Lawrence, J. F.; N. B. Nikitsky & A. G. Kirejtshuk. 1995. Phylogenetic position of Decliniidae (Coleoptera: Scirtoidea) and comments on the classification of Elateriformia (sensu lato), p. 375-410. In J. Pakaluk & S. A. Slipinski (eds.). Biology, phylogeny, and classification of Coleoptera: papers celebrating the 80th birthday of Roy A. Crowson. Warszawa, Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, v. 1, i-xii + 1-558 p.

Wittmer, W. 1948. 7. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der neotropischen Malacodermata. Revta Soc. ent. argent. 14(4):215-222.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Cneoglossa edsoni
Comments paratype specimen
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Identified By Costa, Vanin & Ide
Sex Male
Life Cycle Stage adult
View dorsal
Size 4.5mm
Copyright © 2011 Cleide Costa
Scientific Name Cneoglossa edsoni
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Identified By Costa, Vanin & Ide
Life Cycle Stage larva, final instar
View dorsal and ventral
Size 14.9 mm
Copyright © 2011 Cleide Costa
Scientific Name Cneoglossa edsoni
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Identified By Costa, Vanin & Ide
Life Cycle Stage pupa
View dorsal and lateral
Size 12.6 mm
Copyright © 2011 Cleide Costa
About This Page
We thank Ricardo P. Vanin for the electronic treatment of figures of larvae and pupae. To Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the Research Grant 302721/2007 – 0 to C. Costa.

Cleide Costa
Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil

Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Cleide Costa at and Sergio Antonio Vanin at

Page: Tree of Life Cneoglossidae. Cneoglossa. Authored by Cleide Costa and Sergio Antonio Vanin. 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:

Costa, Cleide and Sergio Antonio Vanin. 2011. Cneoglossidae. Cneoglossa. Version 16 February 2011 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Cneoglossa/9127/2011.02.16 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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