Length: 3 mm
Like many other Hister Beetles, in Platylomalus aequalis the body is extremely flattened, the abdomen exposed at the rear, and the color a shiny black. The size is very small. Unlike some other Hister Beetle species, however, the Platylomalid Hister Beetle's head lacks pincers.
If one has a beetle that looks similar to the photo, one is probably safe in saying it is Platylomalid aequalis. There is no other species of Platylomalus in West Virginia, nor indeed in the rest of the Nearctic.
When disturbed, this beetle pulls in its head, legs, and antennae. In such a state, especially given the beetle's tiny size, one might think the narrow end was the front (see image below). The photo above was taken as the beetle "came to life" on the photographer's hand, suddenly extending legs, head, and antennae.
Insects of West Virginia