One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small beetle of a family (Dermestidae ) that includes many kinds which are destructive (especially as larvae) to hides, skin, fur, wool, and other animal substances.
- ‘Specimens were then prepared for morphometric analysis with dermestid beetles, which cleaned and disarticulated skeletal elements of the head.’
- ‘The left set of leg bones was cleaned by dermestid beetles and airdried in preparation for chemical analysis.’
- ‘The destruction of nests discourages infestations by dermestid beetles and other insect scavengers which could move to other household items.’
- ‘The dank cave floor swarms with flesh-eating dermestid beetles, which museums often employ to clean animal skeletons; should a maladroit bat fall into their midst, they'll reduce it to bones in minutes.’
- ‘The mandibles were exposed to dermestid beetles, cleaned, and the coordinates of 16 landmark points were digitized for the right hemimandible.’
Late 19th century: from modern Latin Dermestidae (plural), from the genus name Dermestes, formed irregularly from Greek derma ‘skin’ + esthiein ‘eat’.
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