A male diving beetle (Acilius sp.) front foot (2015), digital image created by laser scanning confocal microscope by Igor Siwanowicz

Astonishing Animals – The Male Diving Beetle

The microscopic intricacy of this insect’s foot belies a deeply sinister mating habit

Most of the images in our new book Animal: Exploring the Zoological World show the whole beast. However, this striking, microscopic view of a diving beetle’s foot more than merits close attention.

“The three flat discs at the top of the image are suction cups that males use to secure themselves to the female during mating and for up to a further six hours of post-copulatory guarding," according to the book. Prior to mating, the males are thought to exhaust the females of oxygen by shaking them and keeping them underwater in order to make them more placid.

“The Polish-born biochemist and neuroscientist Igor Siwanowicz (born 1976) was brought up surrounded by biology textbooks – both his parents were biologists – and claims it was a natural step to begin photographing bugs in the early 2000s. The Acilius sulcatus foot here is shown through an electron microscope at a magnification of 100x in a composite constructed from multiple images.

"Technology has progressed considerably from 1665, when Robert Hooke first revealed the hidden world of small things as seen through his basic microscope, but the contemporary work of Siwanowicz and others continues to fuel our desire to look at life in even greater detail to better understand and appreciate the intricacy and beauty of tiny creatures that might otherwise go unnoticed.”


Animal: Exploring the Zoological World
Animal: Exploring the Zoological World

See more of the 300 plus ways we have documented the animals around us throughout time by ordering a copy of Animal: Exploring the Zoological World here. Check out our previous stories from the book on Sir Edwin Landseer's Monarch of the Glen, Underwater photographer Alexander Semenov's Lion's Mane JellyfishCai Guo-Qing's Heritage, Jill Greenberg's Diana Monkey  Nick Veasey's Fruit BatThe Sweat Bee and The Steppe Bison.