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Specialized beetles shed light on predator-prey associations in the cretaceous
“Recently, a research team led by researchers from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) found a new morphologically specialized beetle from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber, shedding new light on the predator-prey associations in the late Mesozoic terrestrial ecosystem.
Insects exhibit various morphological specializations specific to particular behaviors, and these permit the reconstruction of palaeobiological traits. Dr. CAI Chenyang at NIGPAS and Dr. YIN Ziwei at the Shanghai Normal University discovered three exceptionally well-preserved fossils of highly specialized ant-like stone beetles (Staphylinidae, Scydmaeninae) from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber, some 99 million years ago.
These fossils, named as Cascomastigus monstrabilis YIN&CAI, 2017, are represented by both male and female, and belong to a small tribe called Mastigini. These early beetles display morphological modifications on the antennae unknown among living ant-like stone beetles and associated with predation on springtails (Collembola), a widespread and abundant group of significantly greater geological age.
Cascomastigus has an extremely large body size, elongate clubbed maxillary palpi, toothed mandibles, and more importantly, slender and highly modified antennae that functioned as an antennal setal trap. Such an antennal modification is analogous to that of the modern ground beetle genus Loricera (Carabidae, Loricerinae), a group possessing a specialized antennal setal trap exclusively for the capture of springtails.” (…) READ MORE
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