Because much of our work focuses on vertebrate animals (quite unfair given how few there are of us relative to all other animals on Earth!) we wanted to create a piece of artwork that would celebrate a group of animals other than vertebrates. For that, there was no better choice than the beetles. Not only are they insects, but also as an order (the order Coleoptera) beetles have more species than perhaps any other order of animals (we say “perhaps” because Hymenoptera, or the order that includes ants, bees, and wasps, may have more species that just haven’t been described yet). Whether or not they’re actually number one, there’s no denying that the number of described beetle species, which amounts to 25% of all described animal species, is impressive.

3D Anatomy Studios member Michael Fath created this mosaic of 27 unique adult beetles and 6 unique larval beetles to celebrate the huge diversity of beetles. The combination of adult and larval forms are a reminder that, like many insects, beetles undergo metamorphosis, with the adult form emerging from a pupa or cocoon. And among the adult forms you can see both wings and elytra, specialized wing-cases that cover the back wings and that evolved from the front wings. This is actually the origin of the name Coleoptera, which means “shielded wings” in Greek. Within the mosaic, you’ll find a rhinoceros beetle, ladybug, lightning bug, stink bug, flat bark beetle, diving beetle, and stag beetle, among others. Together, they squirm, skate, scurry and soar to form the silhouette of a scarab beetle.

Illustrated by: Michael Fath, MS

Software used: Adobe Illustrator

License: CC BY-NC-SA 3D Anatomy Studios