AppearanceBeetles in the family are elongate with soft elytra. The elytra are often covered with rows of hairs. The margin of the eyes are not round but notched anteriorly. The head faces forward (prognathous) and the clypeal region is produced into a short flat snout. Each of the legs have five tarsi (5-5-4 in the Oedemeridae) with simple claws and a single spur on the pro-tibia. Male Idgia and Prionocerus have a comb on the inner edge of the distal tarsal segment of the foreleg. The genera Nacerdes and Xanthochroa in the family Oedemeridae and some Cantharidae bear resemblance to some of the Prionoceridae.
Members of the family were formerly included as a subfamily within the closely related Melyridae (the genus Lobonyx in Dasytidae). Prionoceridae have been recorded from the middle Jurassic of China (Idgiaites jurassicus) and Eocene Amber from Canada (Prionocerites tattriei).
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