The name Phoberus capensis (Scholtz) is applied to a small flightless, keratinophagous beetle
endemic to the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. Its gross distribution stretches from
roughly 1000 km from the Cederberg (S32°24'22" E19°04'50") to Grahamstown (S33°20'07"
E26°32'50"). The populations are spatially discrete, restricted to relict forests of the southern
Cape and disjunct high montane refugia of the Cape Fold Mountains. We test the hypothesis
that there is more than one distinct species nested within the name P. capensis. Phylogenetic
relationships among populations were inferred using molecular sequence data. The results
support three distinct evolutionary lineages, which were also supported by morphological characters. Divergence time estimates suggest Pliocene-Pleistocene diversification. Based on
these results, it is suggested that the P. capensis lineage experienced climatically-driven
allopatric speciation with sheltered Afrotemperate forests and high mountain peaks serving as
important refugia in response to climatic ameliorations. The P. capensis complex thus
represents a speciation process in which flight-restricted populations evolved in close
allopatry, possibly as recently as the Pleistocene. Two divergent and geographically distinct
lineages are described as novel species: The new species, P. disjunctus sp. n. and P. herminae
sp. n., are illustrated by photographs of habitus and male aedeagi.