International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 939–954 | Cite as

Revisited larval morphology of Thanatophilus rugosus (Coleoptera: Silphidae)

  • Martin Novák
  • Pavel JakubecEmail author
  • Jarin Qubaiová
  • Hana Šuláková
  • Jan Růžička
Original Article


Determination of insect species and their instars, occurring on human remains, is important information that allows us to use insects for estimation of postmortem interval and detect possible manipulation with the body. However, larvae of many common species can be identified only by molecular methods, which is not always possible. The instar determination is even more challenging, and qualitative characters that would allow a more precise identification are mostly unknown. Thanatophilus rugosus (Linnaeus, 1758) is a common necrophagous beetle in the whole Palaearctic region from Europe to Japan. The species is often encountered on corpses of large vertebrates including humans, and its potential to become a useful bioindicator for forensic entomology is therefore high. Adults can be easily distinguished from other species; however, larvae were never thoroughly described to allow species and instar identification. The aim of this study was to provide reliable morphological characters that would allow species and instar identification of T. rugosus larvae. The material for morphological study was obtained from rearing under controlled conditions (20 °C and 12:12 h of light/dark period), and specimens that were not studied morphologically were allowed to complete their development. Quantitative and qualitative morphological characters for instar and species identification are described and illustrated. Additionally, we report observations of biology and developmental length for all stages of the species.


Thanatophilus rugosus Larval instar identification Morphology Forensic entomology 



Thanks are due to Miroslav Hyliš (Praha, Czech Republic) for preparing our electron imaging samples and providing needed guidance at the SEM laboratory.

Funding information

The project was supported by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (grant no. VI20152018027).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

H. Šuláková is an employee of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Police of the Czech Republic.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

414_2017_1764_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)
Online Resource 1 (XLSX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PragueSuchdolCzech Republic
  2. 2.Police of the Czech Republic, Institute of Criminalistics PraguePragueCzech Republic

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