The beetles are elegant insects with long, slender legs, running quickly, and flying in the sunshine.
Ganglbauer (1892) divides the whole order into two sub-orders only, the Caraboidea (the Adephaga of Sharp and the older writers) and the Cantharidoidea (including all other beetles), since the larvae of Caraboidea have five-segmented, two-clawed legs, while those of all other beetles have legs with four segments and a single claw.
Horn placed the Rhynchophora (weevils) in a group distinct from all other beetles, on account of their supposed primitive nature.
Kolbe, on the other hand, insists that the weevils are the most modified of all beetles, being highly specialized as regards their adult structure, and developing from legless maggots exceedingly different from the adult; he regards the Adephaga, with their active armoured larvae with two foot-claws, as the most primitive group of beetles, and there can be little doubt that the likeness between larvae and adult may safely be accepted as a primitive character among insects.
The generalized arrangement of the wing-nervure and the nature of the larva, which is less unlike the adult than in other beetles, distinguish this tribe as primitive, although the perfect insects are, in the more dominant families, distinctly specialized.