The firefly beetle is not only a new species but also part of an entirely new genus and subfamily of bioluminscent beetle.
Scientists have discovered the first ever species of bioluminescent click beetle in Asia which remarkably appears to have evolved there for the first time.
The extraordinary beetle which can glow using only biological processes was discovered in the subtropical evergreen broadleaf forests in southwest China.
Scientists affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Science in Kunming alongside others published their paper describing the new species in the journal ZooKeys.
Although there are more than 10,000 species of click beetle across the world, only 200 are able to emit light.
The light that they emit is known as “cold light” and does not radiate in the ultraviolet or infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
These light-emitting species were believed to only inhabit Latin America and Oceania until the new discovery.
“Interestingly, the position of the luminous organs varies amongst the different click beetle lineages,” wrote the researchers.
“In some, they are found on the foremost of the three thoracic segments of the body (prothorax), in others – on both the prothorax and the abdomen, and in few – only on the abdomen.”
It was one of these rare abdomen beetles which the team discovered in China in Yunnan, the mountainous province bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
“In 2017, during an expedition to the western Yunnan in China, we discovered a dusk-active bioluminescent click beetle with a single luminous organ on the abdomen, ” recalled lead scientist Wen-Xuan Bi.
It was the first ever bioluminscent click beetle which had been observed in Asia and so the team studied it to figure out where it had come from.
Both looking at its morphological and molecular features the researchers identified that it was indeed a new species of beetle.
The paper’s co-author Dr Xue-Yan Li explained that the beetle was not only a completely new species of click beetle, but an entirely new genus and subfamily.