An Eocene fossil scarab beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) from Tanzania


  • Werner P. Strümpher Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Clarke H. Scholtz Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Thomas Schlüter Department of Geography, Environmental Science and Planning, University of Eswatini, Kwaluseni, Eswatini



Africa, Lagerstätte, Mahenge deposit, maar lake, new genus, new species, taxonomy


A fossil scarabaeoid (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) Mahengea mckayi new genus, new species – the only well-preserved insect fossil and one of only a few insects found at the site – is described from an otherwise rich Eocene (~ 45.6 mya) maar Lagerstätte at Mahenge in central northern Tanzania. Numerous fossil fishes and plants have been recovered from this site and described. The dearth of insect fossils is surprising considering their richness in other deposits of similar origin and age. We suggest that the rich fish fauna present in the oxygen-rich parts of the water in the former volcanic crater lake may have scavenged most of the terrestrial insects that fell into the water. Although the fossil described here is undoubtedly that of a member of the Scarabaeoidea, the family placement remains unsure.


We describe the first Eocene fossil scarab from Africa. It is one of only a few scarab fossils from the continent and one of the best-preserved insect (invertebrate) fossils from the deposit.


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How to Cite

Strümpher, W. P., Scholtz, C. H., & Schlüter, T. (2023). An Eocene fossil scarab beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) from Tanzania. South African Journal of Science, 119(3/4).



Research Article