Stag beetles have a special place in Japan. Looking like little monsters, children love to collect, raise, and maybe even battle them with other bugs.  An entire industry is built around these little critters in the country.

An incredibly rare stag beetle will be put on display in Chiba starting 6 October.  This beetle has the head of a male and the body of a female and may be the first ever of its kind discovered.

According to teacher Toshio Shimizu who works on the exhibit, stag beetles that are sexually divided from left to right are common, but a cleanly separated head and body hermaphrodite is a once in a lifetime find.

The 5 cm long sawtooth stag beetle has the long mandibles characteristic of males but female front legs and reproductive organs could be seen on the body.

It was found by 17 year-old student Natsuki Hirayama in a wooded area near Ushiku city, Chiba. Hirayama took it to his local beetle shop which then showed the still living specimen it to Shimizu.

From there they were put in touch with stag beetle experts by a beetle magazine based in Tokyo.  Based on the experts’ analysis; “Biologically, it’s very close to female. It also has the ability to lay eggs.”

The hermaphroditic beetle has become the darling of entomology circles, with studies, scientific journal articles, and presentations planned for the future. But first, it will be the centerpiece of “The Life and Creatures of Satoyama – Nature Villiage” which displays various extinct or endangered insect and fish specimens from the area.

The exhibition will run until 25 November, so if you want a firsthand look at this sexually confused insect this may be the only chance in your lifetime.

Source: MSN (Japanese)