Phoberus caffer ( Harold 1872 ),

Strümpher, Werner P. & Scholtz, Clarke H., 2019, A new Phoberus MacLeay species (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea: Trogidae) from the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains of southern Africa and the Phoberus caffer species group reviewed, Zootaxa 4674 (5), pp. 551-563: 555-558

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.4674.5.4

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Phoberus caffer ( Harold 1872 )


Phoberus caffer ( Harold 1872) 

( Figs. 5–12View FIGURES 5–8View FIGURES 9–12, 19View FIGURE 19)

Trox caffer Harold, 1872: 41  ; Péringuey, 1901: 462; Arrow, 1912: 54; Haaf, 1953: 334; Haaf, 1959: 474

Trox (Trox) caffer caffer: Scholtz, 1980: 95  ; Scholtz 1982: 3

Trox (Phoberus) caffer caffer: Scholtz, 1986: 361  ; Zidek, 2013: 9

Phoberus caffer caffer: Strümpher et al., 2016: 78  ; Zídek, 2017: 99

Type material examined. Lectotype (♂, MNHN: MNHN EC9756View Materials, through photographs without locality data Figs. 5–8View FIGURES 5–8). 

Material re-examined from Scholtz (1980). South Africa: Northern Cape Province: Cape Colony, Deelfontein [30°59’S 23°48’E], S.A., Col. Sloggett, 1903-18 (1♂, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; Deelfontein , S. A[frica], Col. Sloggett, 1903- 109 (1♀, SAMC)  ; Farm: Mynfontein, Richmond Distr. , SE 31 19 Da ,, A. Strydom (1♂, TMSA)  . Western Cape Province: Cape T[own], vi.[18]91, L. P[éringuey] (1♂, 1♀, SANC; 1♂, SAMC)  ; Mooreesb [urg], C.C. [Cape Colony], J.M. Bain, [19]06 (1♀, SAMC)  ; Jonkershoek Mnt. Forest Reserve, 3319 Cc , 20.xii.1978, C.H. Scholtz (1♀, SAMC)  ; 15 m [iles] W of Garies , 15.xi.1948, Koch & Van Son (1♂, TMSA)  ; S. Africa, C.P., Saldanha , Feb. 1974 (1♂, SAMC)  .

Material examined, representing new distributions records post of Scholtz (1980). SOUTH AFRICA: Northern Cape Province: Richtersveld, Oemsberg Water , 28°27’S 17°10’E, 23.ix.1991, E-Y:2795, kerosene light, leg. Endrödy-Younga (1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Namaqualand, Wolfberg 187 [28°32’S 17°23’E], 16.x.1996, leg. Harrison & Van Wyk (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Springbok [29°39’S 17°53’E], 20-24.ix.1970, Potgieter & Snyman (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Hondek- lipbaai [30°19’S 17°17’E], 11.xi. [19]33, G. van Son (1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Kamieskroon District , 1113 m, 30°22’S 18°08’E, 17.x.2008, A.P. Marais (1♂, SANC)GoogleMaps  ; 6 km S of Kamieskroon , 1-13.ix.2003, 30°15’S 17°55’E, A. Frolov & C. De- schodt (3 unsexed, UPSA [preserved in 99% ethanol for future molecular work])GoogleMaps  ; Calvinia district , 31°12’S 19°40’E, 838 m, 29.viii.2009, C.H. Scholtz (1♂, UPSA [preserved in 99% ethanol for future molecular work])GoogleMaps  ; Sutherland District (1♀, UPSA [preserved in 99% ethanol for future molecular work]); nr. Hanover , 30°59’S 24°30’E, 1396 m, 10.iii.2008. WP. Strümpher (1♂, UPSA [(GenBank accession numbers: KC801076, KC801240, KC801137: Strüm- pher et al. 2014); preserved in 99% ethanol for future molecular work])GoogleMaps  ; Fraserburg [31°54’S 21°31’E], 28.ix.1943, J.H. Cloete (1♀, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; Western Cape Province: Verlorenvlei , 32°19’S 16°22’E, 28.viii.1981, E-Y:1856, leg. Endrödy-Younga (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Vredendal [31°38’S 18°33’E], 28-30 July [19]27, G. van Son (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Koebee Pass, nr Vanrhynsdorp , x.2008, A.P. Marais (1♂, UPSA [preserved in 99% ethanol for future molecular work])  ; Clanwilliam [32°11’S 18°53’E], 3.x.1947, S. Walters (1♀, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; Ceres [33°24’S 19°17’E], [19]47, T. v[an]. Eeden (1♀, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; Soebatsfontein [30°07’S 17°35’E], 13-14.xi.1933, G. van Son (2♂, 2♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Darling , SW. (8 km SE)  , 4-5.ix.1981, A.L.V. Davis (1♂, SANC)  ; Riebeeck Kasteel, Porseleinberg 33°27’S 18°53’E, 349 m, 21.viii.2008, Baited Pitfall Trap, W.P. Strümpher (1♂, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; Koeberg , v.[18]82 (1♂, 1♀, SANC)  ; Worcester 20 km S, 33°48’S 19°22’E, 800 m, 06.vii.2009., W.P. Strümpher (1♂, 1♀, SANC)GoogleMaps  ; Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek , 6.iv. [19]50, H.K. Munro (1♀, SANC)  ; Bontebok Nat. Park, Swellendam, SE 3420 Ad , iii.1979, L. Braack (5♂, 6♀, SAMC; 3♂, 2♀, SANC)  ; Gamkaberg Nat. Res. , 33°44’S 21°57’E, 1.vii.1994, E-Y:3232, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, 1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Gamkaberg Nat. Res. , 33°44’S 21°57’E, 1.x.1994, E-Y:3235, leg. Tom Berry (2♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Gamkaberg Nat. Res. , 33°42’S 21°57’E, 1.x.1994, E-Y:3243, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, 1♀, 7 unsexed, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo , Gam- kaberg 1000m, 33°44’S 21°57’E, 21.xii.1993 [– 14.i.1994], E-Y:3069, groundtraps [pitfall traps], 24 days, leg. Tom Berry (1♀, TMSA; Figs. 9–12View FIGURES 9–12)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg 1000 m, 33°44’S 21°57’E, 14.i.1994, E-Y:3070, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg 1000m, 33°44’S 21°57’E, 15.ii.1994, E-Y:3071, leg. Tom Berry (4♂, 9♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg 1000 m, 33°44’S 21°5’7E, 15.iii.1994, E-Y:3072, leg. Tom Berry (10♂, 6♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg 1000 m, 33°44’S 21°57’E, 14.iv.1994, E-Y:3073, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, 1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg 1000 m, 33°44’S 21°57’E, 8.xi.1993, E-Y:3075, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg , de Brug, 1000 m, 33°42’S 21°57’E, 21.xii.1993, E-Y:3077, leg. Tom Berry (1♂ TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg , de Brug, 1000 m, 33°42’S 21°57’E, 14.i.1994, E-Y:3078, leg. Tom Berry (1♂, 2♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Little Karroo, Gamkaberg , de Brug, 1000 m, 33°42’S 21°57’E, 15.iii.1993, E-Y:3080, leg. Tom Berry (2♂, 1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; S. Cape Mt., Matjiesfontein Mt. , 33°16’S 20°30’E, 25.x.1978, E-Y:1478, leg. Endrödy-Younga (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Matjiesfontein , 33°16’S 20°30’E, 03.xii.1978, E-Y:1516, leg. Endrödy-Younga (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape- Karoo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 05.ix.1979, E-Y:1639, leg. R. Oosthuizen (12♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Ka- roo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 15.xii.1979, E-Y:1693, leg. R. Oosthuizen (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Karroo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 02.iii.1979, E-Y:1552, leg. R. Oosthuizen (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Karroo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 30.iv.1979, E-Y:1571, leg. R. Oosthuizen (5♂, 1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Karroo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 30.iv.1979, E-Y:1571, leg. R. Oosthuizen (5♂, 1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Karroo, Farm: Zwartskraal , 33°10’S 22°32’E, 01.ii.1980, E-Y:1698a, leg. R. Oosthuizen (1♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Cape-Karroo, Farm : Zwart- skraal, 33°10’S 22°32’E, 23.vii.1979, E-Y:1637, leg. R. Oosthuizen (2♂, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Waboomskraal, Outeniqua Mnts , 33°52’S 22°22’E, 29.iv.1985, W. Breytenbach (1♂, SANC)GoogleMaps  ; Eastern Cape Province: Algoa Bay [Port Elizabeth], Capland, Dr. H. Brauns (1♂, SANC; 1♀, TMSA)  ; Grahamstown , 635 m, 14-16.xi.2008, Baited pitfall trap, 33°16’S 26°28’E, W.P. Strümpher (1♂, SAMC)GoogleMaps  ; AmaKhala Game Reserve [33°32’S 26°02’E], 15.iii-15.iv.2016, C. Tocco (144 spec. AMGS)GoogleMaps  ; Middelburg , 31°3’S 25°.0’E, 13.x.1986, M. de Jager, AcLG 893 (2♀, SANC)  ; Middelburg [31°28’S 24°59’E], 29.viii.1984, R. Loubser, AcLG 812 (2♀, SANC)GoogleMaps  ; North West Province: Bothaville [27°22’S 26°37’E], Orange Fr. St. , Dr Brauns (1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Christiana [27°53’S 25° 9’E], Transvaal, Dr Brauns (1♀, TMSA)GoogleMaps  ; Transvaal, Christiana , leg. N. Persson, Coll. Malmö Museum (2 unsexed, MZLU: MZLUCOL00008266View Materials; MZLU- COL00008267)  .

Additional material, not listed in Haaf (1953) or Scholtz (1980), examined. SOUTH AFRICA: Northern Cape Province: Vic [toria]- West , 28.ix. [19]47, A. v. H. (1♂, SANC, 1♀, SAMC;  Western Cape Province: Cape Flats, Cape Town , 30.x.1949, Koch & Andreae (1♀, TMSA);  Eastern Cape Province: Willowmore, Capland, Dr. H Brauns (4♂, 2♀, TMSA; 1♂, SANC). 

Diagnosis. Phoberus caffer  can be easily distinguished from other members of the species group by the yellow fringes and tufts of setae on the pronotum and elytra ( Figs. 5, 6View FIGURES 5–8, 9, 10View FIGURES 9–12); the other members have black setae ( Figs. 1, 2View FIGURES 1–4, 15, 16View FIGURES 15–18). Due to the yellow setation P. caffer  is superficially similar to the other members of the genus bearing yellow setae, but especially to P. luridus  , P. nama  and P. cyrtus  , and overlaps in distribution with all three. However, it can be distinguished from P. luridus  and P. nama  by the prominence of the pronotal ridges and tubercles. These are more prominent in P. luridus  than in P. caffer  and are obsolete in P. nama  . In P. cyrtus  the elytral tubercles, on even numbered costae, are more elongate and acute apically, whereas in P. caffer  they are distinctly round. The male genitalia of these four species are also distinctive. For detailed descriptions and additional information on the abovementioned species, see Scholtz (1980).

Distribution and habitat. Phoberus caffer  is widely distributed across the central and southern region of South Africa ( Fig. 19View FIGURE 19). Even though it has thus far only been recorded from South Africa, its distribution may extend into southern Namibia. It is recorded from the Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Nama Karoo, Albany Thicket, and Grassland Biomes of South Africa ( Mucina & Rutherford 2006).

Comments. Harold (1872) described this species from an unspecified number of specimens, collected from “ Südafrika, Freistaat Oranje-Rivier, Cradok, Bloemfontein (Fritsch!) ”. The type series was probably collected by Gustav Theodor Fritsch during a three year-long expedition (1863–1865) through South Africa ( Fritsch 1867). In his original description, Harold reported that the type material was in the Vienna Museum (“ Im Wiener Museum ”), then in the collections of Dohrn and Witte. Later, Haaf (1953), in his revision of Afrotropical taxa, recorded that the types were in Berlin (“ Typus und Paratypus im Zool. Mus. Berlin ”), but failed to give any information on the origin of the specimens he examined. Zidek (2013: 8; 2017: 99) listed the Museum of Natural History in Berlin (MNHB) as the repository for the type specimens of Phoberus caffer (Harold)  . However, during the course of this study, it was established that the two specimens (labelled “ Type ” and “ Paratypus ”) in the MNHB could not belong to the original series studied by Harold, because the specimens are from “ Orlog Rivier ” collected by, or from the collection of, “ Meyer ” (see Figs. 13, 14View FIGURES 13–14). Therefore, the two specimens in the MNHB collection cannot be regarded as part of the type series, and have been erroneously labelled as such. No other specimens that correspond to the material listed in Harold’s original description could be found in the MNHB or in the Natural History Museum Vienna ( Austria).

In his revision, Scholtz (1980) mentioned that he was unable to examine the MNHB specimens referred to by Haaf (1953), but designated a lectotype for Trox caffer  from the Harold collection in the MNHN ( Figs. 5–8View FIGURES 5–8). However, the origin of the lectotype is unclear (“ Oranje ”), and apart from bearing a handwritten label “ caffer Harold  typ. ” in the style that is typical for Harold ( Horn & Kahle 1935 -1937), there is no other information (e.g. collector or date) to indicate that this specimen belongs to the original type series. Without other type specimens available for comparison, it is difficult to confirm or refute the validity of the lectotype.

Although we do not consider the type (s) as lost at this stage, it is possible that the material is in one of the other institutes where more of Harold’s material is known to have been deposited. Even though the type could not be studied, P. caffer  is a well-defined species and can be readily recognised from the literature ( Haaf 1953; Scholtz 1980). Furthermore, the TMSA, UPSA and SANC collections contain sufficient material (det. Haaf, 1953; det. Scholtz, 1980) for comparison.


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle


Iziko Museums of Cape Town


Transvaal Museum


Agricultural Research Council-Plant Protection Research Institute


University of Pretoria


Albany Museum


Lund University














Phoberus caffer ( Harold 1872 )

Strümpher, Werner P. & Scholtz, Clarke H. 2019

Trox caffer

Haaf, E. 1959: 474
Haaf, E. 1953: 334
Arrow, G. J. 1912: 54
Peringuey, L. 1901: 462
Harold, E. 1872: 41

Trox (Trox) caffer caffer:

Scholtz, C. H. 1982: 3
Scholtz, C. H. 1980: 95

Trox (Phoberus) caffer caffer:

Zidek, J. 2013: 9
Scholtz, C. H. 1986: 361

Phoberus caffer caffer: Strümpher et al., 2016: 78

Zidek, J. 2017: 99
Strumpher, W. P. & Villet, M. H. & Sole, C. L. & Scholtz, C. H. 2016: 78