Lucanus orientalis Kraatz, 1860

Lucanus orientalis Kraatz, 1860 - Uber die europäische Hirschkäfer. Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift, 4: 265-275.
Lucanus intermedius Motschulsky, 1870 - Enumération des nouvelles espèces de Coléoptères rapportés de ses voyages. Bulletin de la Société impériale des Naturalistes de Moscou, 43: 18-49. (Armenia, Caramanie) - Synonymus.
Lucanus piger Motschulsky, 1870, (lc Georgia) - Synonymus.
Lucanus subvelutinus Motschulsky, 1870, (lc Persia septentrionale) - Synonymus.
Lucanus tenebrosus Motschulsky, 1870 - Synonymus.
Lucanus syriacus Motschulsky, 1870, (lc Syria, Azerbaidjan, Georgia) - Synonymus).

The male of the species is so variable in its form that Motschulsky described in 1870 several taxa, in fact the same species. The body is slender length ranging 28-46 mm, brown black of dull aspect, with a dense punctuation and a strong sexual dimorphism. The taxon can be easily separates from Lucanus cervus by the pronotum which does not have a smooth discal line and which has distinct toothed posterior angles. The mandibles of the males are very variable in their development and have the intern biggest tooth in median position and are shorter for the male of the same size then those of L.cervus. It has also 6 long articles on the antennal club.

The taxonomic rank of the species is discussed since long time and remains still controvercial.
According to Didier and Seguy (1953), Lucanus orientalis Kraatz, 1860 would include inter alia 3 aberrations:

  • Lucanus orientalis ab. subvelutinus Motschulsky, 1870 - from North Iran
  • Lucanus orientalis ab. syriacus Motschulsky 1870 - from Syria
  • Lucanus orientalis ab. ibericus Motschulsky, 1845 (!) - from Turkey, Georgia and Caucasus.

In accordance with the priority of the date of description (1845 against 1860), Lucanus ibericus Motschulsky, 1845 was considered as good species by Lacroix, 1986 and Baraud, 1993 and Lucanus orientalis was put in synonymy with Lucanus ibericus.
This opinion prevailed until the publication of the Catalogue of the Palearctic species (Bartolozi and Sprecher-Uebersax in Löbl & Smetana, 2006, volume 3) in which Lucanus orientalis Kraatz, 1860, and Lucanus ibericus Motschulsky, 1845, are both considered valid species but without indicating the criterion of differentiation. Moreover in the same Catalogue Lucanus curtulus Motschulsky, 1845 (Caucasus and Near east) is considered synonymous of L.orientalis while the latter was described 15 years later. This issue need to be clarified with a careful examination of priorities and the examination of all the types.

In the Levant Lucanus orientalis is known only from Lebanon (Bezbina) and Syria (Latakia) where is uncommon.

(click to enlarge)
Lucanus orientalis Kraatz (Lebanon, Bezbina)
photo A.Kairouz
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Lucanus ibericus Motschulsky
Caucasus, Daghestan, coll. P.Tauzin, photo P.Tauzin
(click to enlarge)
Lucanus orientalis
from Planet, pl. VII

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