Why do harlequin beetles have such long front legs?
AMales of the South American harlequin beetle have enormous front legs, often twice the length of their bodies. Such lankiness has evolved to the point of weaponisation. When fighting over a female, a male will attempt to use his forelimbs to hook his opponent under an ‘armpit’ and fling him from the tree. It’s a risky strategy, as the leg swings close to the adversary’s short-but-powerful jaws, and bits of leg and antenna frequently go missing. Many contests do not end up in physical contact, however – a male often withdraws when confronted by a larger, longer-legged opponent.
Harlequin beetles risk life and limb over females.