Beetles Largely Unchanged After A Hundred Million Years

Fossilized beetles found in 99-million-year-old amber share many similar characteristics with their living family members, say scientists in China.

AsianScientist (Jan. 24, 2019) – A team of scientists in China has found two rare species of ancient beetles preserved in amber. They reported their discovery in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Beetles are the most species-rich group of animals on our planet. Clambidae refer to a family of small-sized (usually 0.7-2.0 mm long) beetles belonging to the largest and most diverse suborder of beetles, the polyphaga. Most adult Clambidae reside in decaying vegetation, leaf litter and rotten wood.

In the present study, researchers led by Dr. Cai Chenyang from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported two new and rare species of Clambidae that had been preserved in Burmese amber: Acalyptomerus thayerae and Sphaerothorax uenoi.

Both species are extremely morphologically close to their living counterparts and can be grouped with existing beetle families. A. thayerae (about 1.05-1.15 mm long) has a close affinity to A. herbertfranzi, a species frequently found in Mesoamerica and northern South America. S. uenoi (about 0.71 mm long) is closely related to existing beetle species usually collected in the forests of Australia, Chile and New Zealand.

The remarkable morphological similarities between fossil and living species of the Clambidae family suggest that these beetles changed little over long periods of geological time, the authors noted.

The article can be found at: Cai et al. (2019) Basal Polyphagan Beetles in Mid-Cretaceous Amber From Myanmar: Biogeographic Implications and Long-term Morphological Stasis.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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