Not only that, but an actual bottle opener modelled on its genitalia will soon be available to buy.
A team from the University of Copenhagen discovered Loncovilius carlsbergi alongside five other new species of insect.
In a press release announcing the find, the university said: ‘Penises are more prevalent in some lines of work than others. And for researchers who study the biodiversity of insects, penises play a significant role in their daily workload – for good reason.’
That reason is the fact that insects’ genitalia are often the easiest way to identify new or different species.
‘Genitalia are the organs in insects that evolve to be different in every species,’ said Dr Aslak Kappel Hansen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
‘As such, they are often the best way to identify a species. That’s why entomologists like us are always quick to examine insect genitalia when describing a species. The unique shape of each species’ genitals ensures that it can only reproduce with the same species.’
By studying beetle specimens that have been hidden in the Natural History Museum of Denmark and other insect collections of the world for decades, Dr Hansen and his colleagues discovered six new species of the rove beetle genus Loncovilius – but one immediately stood out.
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‘This species is characterised, among other things, by the fact that the male’s sexual organ is shaped remarkably like a bottle opener,’ said Dr Hansen. ‘Therefore, we thought it is obvious to dedicate this species to the Carlsberg Foundation, which has generously supported independent research for many years.
‘Their support for various projects, expeditions, or purchase of the scientific instruments at the Natural History Museum of Denmark contributes to the discovery of new species on our planet.’
However, while the team has had plenty of fun naming the small, brown beetle, there is a more serious message behind the find.
‘It is estimated that as many as 85% of all species on Earth are still not formally named and described,’ said co-author Dr Josh Jenkins Shaw.
‘Many species go extinct without ever having been named or recognised by science and as a consequence by humanity as a whole. A taxonomic name is important because nature conservation relies on knowledge about species in particular areas.
‘Without such a description, species are often left out of conservation effort.’
In addition, climate change is also posing a risk to both Loncovilius carlsbergi and insect species across the globe.
‘Loncovilius populations are likely to change in coming decades,’ said lead author José L Reyes-Hernández. ‘Our simulations demonstrate that at least three of the Loncovilius species are at risk because the rapidly changing climate[will strongly alter] more than half of their habitat area by 2060.
‘It is important to stress that many more species will be affected by this change, but we don’t know how because only for four species we had enough data for our analysis.’
Very little is yet known about the small brown beetle Loncovilius carlsbergi and others in its genus. The 1cm-long beetles, found in Chile and Argentina, are considered quite special because they live on flowers, whereas most predatory rove beetles live on the ground among dead leaves or under bark and on fungi.
‘We suspect that they play an important role in the ecosystem,’ said Dr Shaw. ‘So, it’s worrying that nearly nothing is known about this type of beetles, especially when they’re so easy to spot – and some of them are even quite beautiful.
‘Unfortunately, we can easily lose species like these before they’re ever discovered.’
However, the team hopes the headlines grabbed by Loncovilius carlsbergi and its unusual penis may spark a broader interest in beetles.
‘It’s important that we recognise the vast wealth of yet to be researched species around us before it’s too late,’ said Dr Hansen.
‘We would like for people around the world to talk about the crisis facing our planet’s species. A move towards serious learning and awareness may be sparkled by a light chat that takes place over a beer.’
The study is published in the Zoological Journal.