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the »narrow-necked« blind cave beetle

the »narrow-necked« blind cave beetle

The »narrow-necked« blind cave beetle (Leptodirus hochenwartii) from the Schmidt's Entomology Collection (Foto: Matija Gogala)

The discovery of the first cave beetle is of particular significance for the history of Slovene entomology. This was the first description of a cave insect at all. Until then it was not known that insects could live in caves.

In 1831 Luka Čeč, an assistant to a lamplighter, found a beetle in the Postojna Cave which he donated to the Earl Franc Hohenwart who presented it for study to Ferdinand Schmidt. In 1832, Ferdinand Schmidt described it as a new genus and new species, Leptodirus hohenwarti, with the Carniolian name drobnovratnik (the »narrow-necked-one«).

As the first example of the Leptodirus was damaged, Schmidt promised 25 florins for a new one. The inviting reward was never paid; Schmidt himself found the next specimen 16 years later in the same area where the first had been discovered. While searching for this beetle in the Postojna Cave, Schmidt found a multitude of previously unknown cave animals. The unexpected discoveries awakened great interest throughout the world and attracted many foreign researchers to the Carniolian region. A new field in biology had begun: later it was to be called speleobiology.

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