Leptodirus Hochenwartii - Research History

Research History

The animal was first found in 1831 by Luka Čeč, an assistant to the lamplighter, when exploring the newly discovered inner portions of the Postojna cave system in southwestern Slovenia. He gave it to Earl Franz von Hohenwart who was unable to determine the species, and gave the specimen in turn to Ferdinand J. Schmidt, a naturalist from Ljubljana. Schmidt recognized the beetle as a new species and described it in the paper Illyrisches Blatt (1832). He named it Leptodirus Hochenwartii after the donor, and also gave it Slovene name drobnovratnik and German Enghalskäfer, both meaning "slender-necked (beetle)". The article represents the first formal description of a cave animal (the olm, described in 1768, wasn't recognized as a cave animal at the time). Subsequent research by Schmidt revealed further previously unknown cave inhabitants, which aroused considerable interest among natural historians. For this reason, the discovery of L. hochenwartii (along with the olm) is considered as the starting point of speleobiology as a scientific discipline.

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