The titan beetle is one of the largest beetles, with the largest reliable measured specimen being 16.7 cm (6.6 in) in length, comparable to such beetles as the Macrodontia cervicornis and the Hercules beetle, Dynastes hercules, in which giant males occasionally can grow up to 17 cm (6.7 in),[better source needed] but the Hercules beetle males have an enormous horn on the pronotum or thorax making up around half of its total length. As such, the body of the Titan beetle is considerably larger than that of the Hercules beetles. The short, curved and sharp mandibles are known to snap pencils in half and cut into human flesh. Adult titan beetles do not feed, searching instead for mates.
The larvae have never been found, but are thought to feed inside wood and may take several years to reach full size before they pupate. Boreholes thought to be created by titan beetle larvae seem to fit a grub over two inches wide and perhaps as much as one foot long. A famous "life-sized" photograph of a putative larva of this beetle appeared in National Geographic magazine, filling an entire page, but it was of a different species of beetle, possibly Macrodontia cervicornis.
The adults defend themselves by hissing in warning and biting, and have sharp spines, as well as strong jaws.
Titanus giganteus at the Montréal Insectarium
- Williams, David M. (2001). "Chapter 30: Largest". In Walker, T.J. University of Florida Book of Insect Records.
- Zahl, P. A. (1959): Giant insects of the Amazon. Natl. Geogr. Mag. 115 (5): 632-669.
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