Beetles and past temperatures

E. Linacre


The annual mean temperature and annual range of monthly mean temperatures in times past can be inferred from the kinds of beetle existing then. So beetle remains have been dug from the ground at several places in Britain, and carbon-dated to times between 14,500 - 9,000 years ago (1). Also, the kinds of beetle have been identified. Previous studies reveal the temperature conditions (mean and range) required by each of 350 kinds of carnivorous beetle; then the assumpton is made that the same conditions were required in the past. The small degree of overlap of required temperature conditions, when the remains of several kinds of beetle coincide in the same layer of sediment, allows precise temperature estimates.



(1) Atkinson, T.C., K.R. Briffa and G.R. Cope 1987. Seasonal temperatures in Britain during the past 22,000 years reconstructed using beetle remains. Nature, 325, 587-92.