Research Article
Research Article
Revision of the tusked bush-crickets (Tettigonioidea: Pseudophyllinae: Dicranostomus) with description of the hitherto unknown sexes
expand article infoKlaus-Gerhard Heller, Matthias Helb§
‡ Unaffiliated, Magdeburg, Germany
§ Unaffiliated, Hanau, Germany
Open Access


The genus Dicranostomus belongs to the very few Orthoptera with elongated mandibular processes, here called tusks. However, it is also one of the least studied genera from whose two species only one female and two males have been known so far. We present additional material from both species and sexes that confirms that the males have the relatively longest (2–2.8 times pronotal length) tusks of all Orthoptera. Surprisingly, the females of both species differ in this character: females of D. monoceros have tusks and those of D. nitidus do not. Based on a comparison with other species, we hypothesize that the species use holes that males can defend and use to monopolize the females.


Eucocconotini, mandible, Peru, South America, taxonomy, weapon


In many species of animals, males possess elaborate structures used mainly in intraspecific fights over access to females (Emlen 2008). Among mammals, well-known examples include antlers in deers, horns in bovids, and tusks in elephants. In many, but not all, of these species, the weapons are also found in a reduced version in females. In insects, impressive examples of such structures are observed, e.g., in Lucanidae (stag beetles; see Emlen 2008 for other species).

Such weapons are relatively rare among Orthoptera. There are some species where the mandibles are enlarged only in males (see review in Field and Deans 2001, Gorochov 2012), but only in very few species are these special structures found to be used (or, with good reasons, assumed to be used) in the context of antagonistic intraspecific contacts. Males with tusks are found in five species of the family Anostostomatidae [see Field and Deans 2001; in the New Zealand tusked wetas, a monophyletic group of three species in two genera (Trewick and Morgan-Richards 2004) and in two South African species, in Libanasidus vittatus (Kirby, 1899) and in Libanasa capicola (Péringuey, 1916)]. In the superfamily Tettigonioidea, there are two genera with tusks. Three species of the Neotropical genus Listroscelis Serville, 1831 (Listrocelidinae) have one asymmetrical tusk on the left mandible only (Fialho et al. 2014), while the two known species of the Neotropical genus Dicranostomus Dohrn, 1888 (Pseudophyllinae) have a tusk on both mandibles. Dicranostomus nitidus Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1895, so far known only from two males, has the relatively longest tusks of all Orthoptera, ranging from 2 to 2.7 times the pronotal length (Brunner von Wattenwyl 1895, Gurney 1950). The second species was, until recently, known from a single female that, interestingly, also bears tusks, but which are distinctly shorter than that of male D. nitidus. Having obtained some more specimens of this fascinating genus, including the missing sexes of both species, we herein revise the genus and provide a review of all available data.


All specimens were dried, pinned, and photographed using a CANON EOS 1200D. Photos of cerci and mirrors were taken using a dissecting microscope (OLYMPUS SZ Binocular Stereo Zoom Microscope) and a digital camera (SONY Cyber-shot DSC-P120). The inter-tooth distances were measured as the mean between every eleven teeth (ten intervals), starting at the anal end, using ADOBE PHOTOSHOP Elements 6.

The specimens, collected between 2013 and 2018, were obtained from a trader with an export license (


CH Private collection of K.-G. Heller;

C_Helb Private collection of M. Helb;

ISNB Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium;

MZPW Polish Academy of Science, Museum of the Institute of Zoology Warszawa, Poland.



Family Tettigoniidae Krauss, 1902

Subfamily Pseudophyllinae Burmeister, 1838

Tribe Eucocconotini Beier, 1960

Dicranostomus Dohrn, 1888

Dicranostomus monoceros Dohrn, type species by original monotypy


[based on Dohrn 1888 (in Latin), Beier 1960 (in German)].

Medium sized (body length 2.5–4.0 cm), yellowish-brown animals (habitus; Fig. 1). Head as broad as pronotum or broader. Frons shiny, smooth. Fastigium frontis elongated, curved or straight. Fastigium verticis compressed, narrow, with longitudinal furrow. Antennae very long, scapus unarmed. Male mandible at base with a very long, horizontally directed tusk (Fig. 2). Pronotum smooth or slightly granulated, with delicate anterior and medially deeply incised posterior sulcus; metazona flat, only slightly longer than mesozona, laterally no edges, humeral sinus very weak; side lobes longer than high, ventrally nearly straight and finely edged, caudally weakly ascending, anterior edges even more broadly rounded than the also broadly rounded posterior edges. Openings of the tympanic organ in the fore tibia directing dorsally, slit-like. Auditory prothoracal spiracle quite small, just below the respiratory spiracle. Tegmina just surpassing abdomen, gradually becoming narrow, costal area with wide-meshed veins, Sc (subcosta) and R veins separated. The male mirror on both the left and right wing is translucent (Fig. 3). Teeth in stridulatory file regularly spaced (Fig. 4). Rs (radius sector) arising at the beginning of the apical quarter, media (M) and Sc stalked. Alae roundish, shorter than tegmina. Prosternum with two close spines between prothoracic legs. Mesosternal lobes pointed. Metafurcal pit deep. Middle coxae two-pronged. All femora ventrally armed. Inner genicular lobes of mid and hind femora with spine. Fore tibiae dorsally at the inner edge with a series of small humps. Mid tibiae dorsally with one to three spines internally. Supraanal plate triangular or rounded. Male cerci thick, nearly straight, with subapical spine and apical process (Fig. 5). Male subgenital plate distally narrowed, styli rod-like. Female subgenital plate transverse, slightly incised. Ovipositor short, relatively broad and slightly up-curved, at the upper edge very delicately crenulated (Fig. 6).


South America, Peru (Fig. 7).

Key to species (after Brunner von Wattenwyl 1895)

1 Pronotum weakly granulated. Knees and spines on legs black D. monoceros
Pronotum smooth, glossy. Spines on legs and knees same color as leg D. nitidus

Dicranostomus monoceros Dohrn, 1888

Figs 1A, 2A–D, 3A, B, 4A, 5A, 6A

Dicranostomus monoceros Dohrn, 1888: 362


PERU • ♀; Cumbasi Peruviae ad Huallagam; [Cumbaza]; MZPW. [photos in Cigliano et al. 2021].

Material examined.

PERU • 2♂; San Martin Region, Prov. Rioja, Nueva Cajamarca; 10 Nov. 2016; local collector; C_Helb8771-C_Helb8772 • 1♀, 1♂; San Martin Region, Prov. Rioja, Nueva Cajamarca; Mar. 2018; local collector; C_Helb8773-C_Helb8774 • 2♂; San Martin Region, Prov. Rioja, confluente Altomayo river/Naranjos; 8 Mar. 2018 & 25 Apr. 2018; local collector; C_Helb8775, ♂ C_Helb8776.


Up to now, the species was known only by the female holotype. In one female (C_Helb8773), the right foreleg is irregularly developed. Its tibia does not have a tympanic organ or dorsal black tubercles (Fig. 2).


General characters as genus.

Male. Fastigium frontis elongated horizontally (Fig. 2), mandibles each with one long (2.1–2.8 times as long as pronotum) process (tusk) (Figs 1, 2; Table 1). Pronotum weakly granulated. Fore and mid femora ventrally with 3 spines, hind femora with 4 spines at anterior edge. Fore tibiae dorsally with 2–3 large, black, blunt spine-like tubercles at the anterior and two small tubercles at the posterior edge, ventrally with ca. 6 spines on both sides, mid tibia dorsally with 1–2 spines on posterior edge, ventrally with ca. 6 spines on both sides, hind tibia with ca. 8 spines on all edges, the dorsal larger than the ventral spines. Mirror cell in left tegmen triangular with broadly rounded distal tip, on right tegmen larger, subquadratical (Fig. 3). Stridulatory file on lower side of left tegmen with ca. 130 regularly spaced teeth (inter-tooth interval 20–23 µm; Fig. 4; n=1 file). Supraanal plate transverse, distally rounded. Subgenital plate elongated, with ca. 1 mm long styli. Cerci with internal subapical spine and blunt apical process directed very slightly inwards.

Female. General characters as genus and male. Mandibles each with one long (0.8–0.9 times as long as pronotum), slightly upcurved process (tusk). Subgenital plate transverse, at the end straightly cut and distally slightly notched in the middle.

Coloration. Head with tusks and pronotum chestnut (tusks becoming darker towards the tips); legs yellowish, but knees, tympanic organ and tubercles in the fore tibia and larger spines in all legs black. Tegmina as in D. nitidus (see below). In some animals, the anterior and central lower parts of the paranota are brighter and more yellowish than the other parts.


See Table 1.

Dicranostomus nitidus Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1895

Figs 1B, 2E–H, 3C, D, 4B, 5B, 6B

Dicranostomus nitidus Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1895: 180


PERU • no details; ISNB. [photos in Cigliano et al. 2021].

Published record.

PERU • 1♂; Department of Huanuco, Fundo Sinchono, 37 miles east of Tingo Maria on the road to Pucallpa; 1700 m a.s.l.; 5 Aug. 1947; Jose Schunke leg.; (Gurney 1950).

Material examined.

PERU • 1♂; Oxapampa; Feb.–Apr. 1984; Rainer Marx leg.; CH4220 • 1♂, 1♀; Prov. Huanuco, Huanuco Road, between Huanaco and Tingo Maria, Malqui [Macora?] town, fog area [sic]; Aug. 2013; local collector; C_Helb8769-C_Helb8770 • 1♂; San Martin Region, Prov. Rioja, Nueva Cajamarca; Mar. 2018; local collector [assumed exchange of labels—see list for localities of monoceros]; C_Helb8777


The species was known only by the male holotype and another male, described by Gurney (1950).


General characters as genus.

Male. Fastigium frontis elongated horizontally (Fig. 2), mandibles each with one long (1.8–2.7 times as long as pronotum) process (tusk) (Figs 1, 2, Table 1). Pronotum smooth. Fore and mid femora ventrally with 3–4 spines, hind femora with 4–6 spines at anterior edge. All tibiae ventrally with several spines on both sides; however, hind tibia ventrally only with few spines at tip of posterior edge. Fore tibiae dorsally with 4–5 blunt spine-like tubercles at the anterior edge, ventrally with ca. 6 spines on both sides, midtibia dorsally with 1–2 spines on posterior edge, ventrally with ca. 6 spines on both sides, hind tibia with ca. 8 spines on each edge, the dorsal larger than the ventral spines; however, ventrally only with few spines at tip of posterior edge. Mirror cells in both tegmina subquadratical; in the right larger than in the left (Fig. 3). Stridulatory file on lower side of left tegmen with ca. 130 regularly spaced teeth (inter-tooth interval 24–32 µm = tooth density ca. 30 mm-1; Fig. 4; n=1 file), Supraanal plate transverse, distally rounded, or broadly cut off. Subgenital plate elongated, with ca. 1 mm long styli. Cerci with internal subapical spine and blunt apical process, directed inwards at an angle of about 40 degrees (Fig. 5).

Female. General characters as genus and male. Fastigium frontis elongated vertically (Fig. 2), mandibles without process (tusk). Subgenital plate transverse, at the distal end slightly and triangularly elongated and slightly incised in the middle.

Coloration. “Head, thorax and legs chestnut, the tibiae darker, the mandibular appendages practically black, palpi pale. …. tegmen with veins brown, cellules and membrane yellowish, much brighter toward base in costal area; wing with veins pale brown, membrane slightly fuscous“ (Gurney 1950). However, other specimens (C_Helb8769, C_Helb8777) not chestnut, but more olive-brown with pro- and metazona of pronotum darker than mesozona or pronotum uniform.


See Table 1.

Figure 1. 

Male habitus of A. Dicranostomus monoceros and B. D. nitidus (same scale for both figures).

Figure 2. 

Morphological details of Dicranostomus monoceros (A–D) and D. nitidus (E–H; same scale for corresponding figures). A, E. Male head lateral; B, F. Male head frontal; C, G. Female head frontal; D, H. Female head semilateral.

Figure 3. 

Mirror cells of Dicranostomus monoceros (A, B) and D. nitidus (C, D). A, C. Left tegmen; B, D. Right tegmen. Scale bar: 5 mm.

Table 1.

Measurements of males and females of both species of Dicranostomus (*data from Beier 1960).

Species Specimen Sex Measurements (in mm)
# body body + tusk pronotum fore femur hind femur tegmen antenna tusk ovipositor
D. monoceros type* 28 6.5 10.5 19 27 - 6 15
C_Helb8773 32 35 6.5 10.5 16.5 23 120 5.5 15.5
C_Helb8771 27 41 6 10 14.5 20 95 16
C_Helb8772 32 44 7 11 16 21.5 95 15
C_Helb8774 29 44 6 10.5 15.5 22 95 16.5
C_Helb8775 27 40 6.5 10.5 16 21 - 16.5
C_Helb8776 28.5 40 6.5 15.5 21 80 17
D. nitidus type* 30 7 11.5 20 22 - 14
Gurney 1950 35 58 7.5 12 19 26 - 20
CH4220 38 53 7.5 12 20.5 27 - 18
C_Helb8769 36 47 7.5 12 19.5 26 72 13.5
C_Helb8770 33 - 7.5 12 20 28.5 100 17.5
C_Helb8777 36 49 7.5 13 19 27.5 68 17
Figure 4. 

Stridulatory files in Dicranostomus. A. D. monoceros (C_Helb8775); B. D. nitidus (CH4225); C. Inter-tooth distances (specimens as in A, B). Scale bars: 1 mm (A, B).

Figure 5. 

Male cerci of A. Dicranostomus monoceros and B. D. nitidus. Scale 1 mm.

Figure 6. 

Ovipositor of A. Dicranostomus monoceros and B. D. nitidus (same scale for both figures).

Figure 7. 

Distribution map of Dicranostomus (all known localities; map based on SimpleMappr (Shorthouse 2010)).


The genus Dicranostomus belongs to the tribe Eucocconotini, which is part of the supertribe Pleminiiti Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1895 (Braun 2015) (or the subfamily Pleminiinae; Gorochov 2012). Within this tribe, the genus is most similar to Gnathoclita Haan, 1843 (see Gorochov 2012), with both genera having the “dorsal surface of anterior tibiae granular or with distinctive tubercles” (Cadena-Castañeda and Monzón-Sierra 2014). According to the key provided by these authors, males of the two genera are easily separable by their mouth parts: Dicranostomus males have tusks and Gnathoclita males have enlarged mandibles. The females, however, differ only in the presence of dorsal spine(s) on the middle tibia in Dicranostomus. Only D. monoceros females have tusks like their males. Possibly, both genera can also be separated by the presence of an elongated (either horizontally or vertically) fastigium frontis in Dicranostomus. Such a structure is not described nor figured for any Gnathoclita (s.str.; sensu Gorochov 2018) species [see G. izerskyi Gorochov, 2018, G. peruviana Carl, 1921 (Gorochov 2014), G. laevifrons Beier, 1960, G. sodalis Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1895, and G. vorax (Stoll, 1813) (Beier 1960)], although data for females are sparse.

Dicranostomus and Gnathoclita are also similar in the shape of their mirrors (compare Fig. 4 to figs 20, 21, 27, 28 in Gorochov 2018, and to fig. 7D in Hugel 2019) and—to a limited extent—in their stridulatory files. In tooth number, Dicranostomus (130 teeth) is situated between the two known Gnathoclita species (G. vorax c.101 teeth (Hugel 2019), G. sodalis 217 teeth (Montealegre-Z and Morris 1999)). The inter-tooth distances in both species (G. vorax 30 µm; G. sodalis 10 µm) correlate negatively with the carrier frequencies of their resonant songs (G. vorax, 8.8 kHz; G. sodalis, 16 kHz). From these data, it can be assumed that Dicranostomus males also sing in this audio range (but perhaps with each species at a different peak frequency) and that they can be located with unaided ears.

Unfortunately, no data are available concerning the function of the most distinctive structure of Dicranostomus: the tusks. These tusks are the longest found among Orthoptera in comparison to the male body size (measured relative to pronotal length) and are clearly longer than in the well-known tusked wetas (Table 2). In Dicranostomus, the tusks do not show any indication of being stridulatory structures, as documented for some wetas (Field 2001). However, although there are no observations of the use of the tusks, there are three lines of evidence that all point in the same direction. In his review about animal weapons, Emlen (2008) writes in the context of resource-defense or female-defense mating systems: “In a surprising diversity of taxa, these critical resources were burrows or tunnels where females lay eggs, and the especially defensible nature of burrows may have played an important role in favoring the evolutionary enlargement of weapons in these cases.” In line with these conclusions, the three New Zealand orthopteran species with long tusks (see Table 1) all inhabit burrows in the ground or holes in trees (see Trewick and Morgan-Richards 2014 for a review). The tusked king cricket Libanasidus vittatus digs holes every night but may sometimes return to previously used holes (Bateman and Toms 1998). Also supporting these ideas, new behavioral observations in the genus Gnathoclita, sister to Dicranostomus (e.g., Gorochov 2012), have shown that G. vorax also inhabits the hollow dead stems of plants, with the males displaying “a form of mate guarding” (Hugel 2019). Thus, in our opinion, it is a plausible hypothesis that Dicranostomus inhabits holes, probably in plant material, and that the males defend these safe places against rivals using their tusks. Holes in plants are also used by other acoustically active species like frogs (e.g., the tree hole frog Metaphrynella sundana; Lardner & bin Lakim 2002). In Disceratus Scudder, 1869, a related genus, its low acoustically determined population density is used as an argument against male to male combat (Braun 2016). Thus, other reasons for the tusks should not be excluded. Completely unknown, however, is the function of the female tusks in D. monoceros. Females of D. nitidus do not possess tusks, but they have a strongly elongated fastigium frontis, as found in both sexes of D. monoceros and in D. nitidus males. Gwynne (2001) speculated on the probability of female-to-female interactions in D. monoceros, and certainly the access, possession, and defense of holes may be important for females as well. Unfortunately, data to confirm or deny this are missing.

Table 2.

Absolute and relative (compared to pronotum) tusk length in Orthoptera.

Species Specimen(s) Sex Length (in mm) of Tusk length /pronotum length Source
pronotum hind femur Tusk (range)
D. monoceros mean 6.4 15.5 16.2 (15.17) 2.5 this paper
mean 6.5 17.8 5.8 (5–6) 0.9 this paper
D. nitidus mean 7.4 19.6 17.1 (18–27) 2.2 this paper
Motuweta isolata holotype 15 38.0 26.0 1.7 Johns 1997
paratype 10 28.0 9.0 0.9 Johns 1997
mean 12.5 33.0 17.5 1.4 Johns 1997
Motuweta riparia mean 7.7 24.0 6.4 (3–12) 0.8 Gibbs 2002
Anisoura nicobarica holotype 4.6 10.6 0.0 Ander 1933
syn. monstrosa 6.0 c. 1.3 Salmon 1950
Libanasidus vittatus mean 9 21.5 7.5 (7–8) 0.8 Péringuey 1916
Libanasa capicola holotype 17.0 7.0 0.8 from figure; Péringuey 1916


We are grateful to Holger Braun, Sigfrid Ingrisch, Ming Kai Tan, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on the manuscript. The Orthopterists’ Society provided free publication of this paper. Duplication of information presented in Cigliano et al. 2021 on request of the main editor.


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