Have been making a very slow start with my vague plan to illustrate some old insect specimens, which is just about sort-of compatible with daily family commitments, so long as there isn't any great hurry, which of course there isn't. I notice that an apparently ever-growing number of my full-sighted artists friends work with other artists, in studios, if you please. Oo, come to my STUDIO where we do arty stuff and talk about arty things, ner ner ner... WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWANK!!! Call that the life of an artist??? Try measuring beetles' legs with your face pressed against a wobbly table under the tiniest possible energy-saving lightbulb while looking after a family member who needs to be pretty much constantly supervised, with Bargain Hunt bellowing out of the telly and a stack of washing up and laundry to get through and all the toothbrushes in the house missing again. Studio indeed! Harrumph!
But I digress. This is a specimen of a large Lucanid beetle, of a species whose name I do not know. I somehow acquired this specimen without any accompanying information. If memory serves, it was one of several sent by way of apology from a dealer who had supplied me with a breeding pair of Dorcus titanus, only for the male to die soon after arrival. Other specimens came with labels, but not this one. Am sure it will be possible to put a name to it someday. I am wondering whether it is a female, as I also have a specimen (bought from Ebay and set in that lucite stuff) of a remarkably similar beetle with large, male "antler" type mandibles. On the other hand, this could be one of the many Lucanids in which both sexes have small, functional mandibles. One of the most striking things about this specimen is the asymmetry of the mandibles, with the right one being distinctly shorter and stouter. Whether this is a trait of the species or just an individual variation, I have no way of knowing at present.