Any of about 30,000 beetle species (family Scarabaeidae), found worldwide, that are compact, heavy-bodied, and oval. Each antenna terminates in three flattened plates that fit together to form a club. The outer edges of the front legs may be toothed or scalloped. Species range from about 0.2 to 4.8 in. (5 to 120 mm) long and include one of the heaviest known insects. One species of dung beetle, Scarabaeus sacer, was sacred to the ancient Egyptians. Many species are agricultural pests (e.g., chafer, Japanese beetle, June beetle); many are popular with insect collectors because they are large and have beautifully coloured, hard, highly polished forewings.
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Scarab commemorating the marriage of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy, 18th dynasty; in the Oriental elipsis
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The genus Scarabaeus consists of a number of Old World dung beetle species, including the "sacred scarab beetle", Scarabaeus sacer. These beetles feed exclusively on dung, which they accomplish by rolling a piece of dung some distance from where it was deposited, and burying it, with an egg deposited on the ball. The growing larva feeds upon the dung ball, pupates, and eventually emerges as an adult.