Madagascan Hawk Moth Giant

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Undiscovered insect (Invertebrate) of Madagascar.

Scientific name: Xanthopan sp. Physical description: Hawk moth with a 16-inch proboscis.

Distribution: Lake It asy, Madagascar. Possible explanation: The epiphyt ic Madagascan orchid Angraecum longicalcar has a rostrel-lum about 16 inches deep that leads to its nec-t ar -pr oducing or gans. No known local mot h has a proboscis that long. However, entomologist Gene Krit sky pr edict s t hat one must exist, since t he plant manages to pr opagat e it self.

Present status: The exist ence of a Madagascan hawk moth (Xanthopan morganipraedicta) with a 12-inch proboscis was predicted in 1862 by Charles Darwin, due to the physical requirement for reaching the nectar in the Comet orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale). The insect was finally discovered and described in 1903.

Sources: Gene Krit sky, "Darwin's Madagascan Hawk Moth Prediction," American Entomologist 37 (Winter 1991): 206-210; Natalie Angier, "It May Be Elusive, but Moth with 15-Inch Tongue Should Be Out There," New York Times, January 14, 1992.

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