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Extreme Morphogenesis and Ecological Specialization among Cretaceous Basal Ants

Published on Jun 1, 2016in Current Biology 9.19
· DOI :10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.075
Vincent Perrichot15
Estimated H-index: 15
(KU: University of Kansas),
Bo Wang17
Estimated H-index: 17
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Michael S. Engel36
Estimated H-index: 36
(KU: University of Kansas)
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Abstract
Summary Ants comprise one lineage of the triumvirate of eusocial insects and experienced their early diversification within the Cretaceous [1–9]. Their ecological success is generally attributed to their remarkable social behavior. Not all ants cooperate in social hunting, however, and some of the most effective predatory ants are solitary hunters with powerful trap jaws [10]. Recent evolutionary studies predict that the early branching lineages of extant ants formed small colonies of ground-dwelling, solitary specialist predators [2, 5, 7, 11, 12], while some Cretaceous fossils suggest group recruitment and socially advanced behavior among stem-group ants [9]. We describe a trap-jaw ant from 99 million-year-old Burmese amber with head structures that presumably functioned as a highly specialized trap for large-bodied prey. These are a cephalic horn resulting from an extreme modification of the clypeus hitherto unseen among living and extinct ants and scythe-like mandibles that extend high above the head, both demonstrating the presence of exaggerated morphogenesis early among stem-group ants. The new ant belongs to the Haidomyrmecini, possibly the earliest ant lineage [9], and together these trap-jaw ants suggest that at least some of the earliest Formicidae were solitary specialist predators. With their peculiar adaptations, haidomyrmecines had a refined ecology shortly following the advent of ants.
  • References (26)
  • Citations (19)
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References26
Newest
Published on Feb 1, 2016in Current Biology 9.19
Phillip Barden6
Estimated H-index: 6
(RU: Rutgers University),
David A. Grimaldi40
Estimated H-index: 40
(CUNY: City University of New York)
Summary Across terrestrial ecosystems, modern ants are ubiquitous. As many as 94 out of every 100 individual arthropods in rainforests are ants [1], and they constitute up to 15% of animal biomass in the Amazon [2, 3]. Moreover, ants are pervasive agents of natural selection as over 10,000 arthropod species are specialized inquilines or myrmecomorphs living among ants or defending themselves through mimicry [4, 5]. Such impact is traditionally explained by sociality: ants are the first major gro...
30 Citations Source Cite
Published on May 13, 2015in PLOS ONE 2.78
Fredrick J. Larabee5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Smithsonian Institution),
Andrew V. Suarez45
Estimated H-index: 45
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
Animals use a variety of escape mechanisms to increase the probability of surviving predatory attacks. Antipredator defenses can be elaborate, making their evolutionary origin unclear. Trap-jaw ants are known for their rapid and powerful predatory mandible strikes, and some species have been observed to direct those strikes at the substrate, thereby launching themselves into the air away from a potential threat. This potential escape mechanism has never been examined in a natural context. We stu...
8 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2014in Palaeontologische Zeitschrift 1.27
Torsten Wappler20
Estimated H-index: 20
(University of Bonn),
Gennady M. Dlussky8
Estimated H-index: 8
(MSU: Moscow State University)
+ 2 AuthorsStanislav Knor4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Charles University in Prague)
Odontomachus paleomyagra sp. nov. is described from the Early Miocene of the Most Basin (Czech Republic) on the basis of a single-winged female, representing one of the rare reports of fossil Odontomachini. The new species is separated easily from other trap-jaw ant species groups by differences in mandibular morphology (without denticles on the inner side) and distributional occurrence. The evolutionary and biogeographic history of the Odontomachini is briefly discussed.
6 Citations Source Cite
Published on Nov 23, 2014in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 10.88
Philip S. Ward1
Estimated H-index: 1
Originating most likely in the early Cretaceous, ants have diversified to become the world’s most successful eusocial insects, occupying most terrestrial ecosystems and acquiring a global ecological footprint. Recent advances in our understanding of ant evolutionary history have been propelled by the use of molecular phylogenetic methods, in conjunction with a rich (and still growing) fossil record. Most extant ants belong to the formicoid clade, which contains ∼90% of described species and has ...
41 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 3, 2014in PLOS ONE 2.78
Phillip Barden6
Estimated H-index: 6
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History),
David A. Grimaldi40
Estimated H-index: 40
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
A new collection of 24 wingless ant specimens from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (Albian-Cenomanian, 99 Ma) comprises nine new species belonging to the genus Sphecomyrmodes Engel and Grimaldi. Described taxa vary considerably with regard to total size, head and body proportion, cuticular sculpturing, and petiole structure while all species are unified by a distinct shared character. The assemblage represents the largest known diversification of closely related Cretaceous ants with respect to spec...
15 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2014in Myrmecological News 2.62
Fredrick J. Larabee5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Smithsonian Institution),
Andrew V. Suarez45
Estimated H-index: 45
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
We review the biology of trap-jaw ants whose highly specialized mandibles generate extreme speeds and forces for predation and defense. Trap-jaw ants are characterized by elongated, power-amplified mandibles and use a combination of latches and springs to generate some of the fastest animal movements ever recorded. Remarkably, trap jaws have evolved at least four times in three subfamilies of ants. In this review, we discuss what is currently known about the evolution, morphology, kinematics, an...
18 Citations
Published on Dec 26, 2013in PLOS ONE 2.78
Andrea Lucky10
Estimated H-index: 10
(UF: University of Florida),
Michelle D. Trautwein12
Estimated H-index: 12
(NCSU: North Carolina State University)
+ 2 AuthorsRobert R. Dunn5
Estimated H-index: 5
(NCSU: North Carolina State University)
The evolution of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is increasingly well-understood due to recent phylogenetic analyses, along with estimates of divergence times and diversification rates. Yet, leading hypotheses regarding the ancestral habitat of ants conflict with new findings that early ant lineages are cryptic and subterranean. Where the ants evolved, in respect to habitat, and how habitat shifts took place over time have not been formally tested. Here, we reconstruct the habitat transitions of ...
19 Citations Source Cite
Published on Oct 1, 2013in Current Biology 9.19
Brian R. Johnson20
Estimated H-index: 20
(UC Davis: University of California, Davis),
Marek L. Borowiec8
Estimated H-index: 8
(UC Davis: University of California, Davis)
+ 3 AuthorsPhilip S. Ward31
Estimated H-index: 31
(UC Davis: University of California, Davis)
Summary Eusocial behavior has arisen in few animal groups, most notably in the aculeate Hymenoptera, a clade comprising ants, bees, and stinging wasps [1–4]. Phylogeny is crucial to understanding the evolution of the salient features of these insects, including eusociality [5]. Yet the phylogenetic relationships among the major lineages of aculeate Hymenoptera remain contentious [6–12]. We address this problem here by generating and analyzing genomic data for a representative series of taxa. We ...
98 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 1, 2013in Canadian Entomologist 1.21
Ryan C. McKellar12
Estimated H-index: 12
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History),
James R.N. Glasier1
Estimated H-index: 1
(U of A: University of Alberta),
Michael S. Engel36
Estimated H-index: 36
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
A new genus and species are described within the extinct tribe Haidomyrmecini, and tentatively placed within the subfamily Sphecomyrminae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Haidoterminus cippus new genus and species expands the distribution of the bizarre, exclusively Cretaceous, trap-jawed Haidomyrmecini beyond their previous records in mid-Cretaceous Burmese and French amber, and into Laurentia. The new material from the Grassy Lake, Alberta, Canada collecting locality also provides evidence that thes...
15 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 1, 2013in Evolution 3.57
Corrie S. Moreau22
Estimated H-index: 22
(FMNH: Field Museum of Natural History),
Charles D. Bell29
Estimated H-index: 29
(UNO: University of New Orleans)
Ants are one of the most ecologically and numerically dominant group of terrestrial organisms with most species diversity currently found in tropical climates. Several explanations for the disparity of biological diversity in the tropics compared to temperate regions have been proposed including that the tropics may act as a “museum” where older lineages persist through evolutionary time or as a “cradle” where new species continue to be generated. We infer the molecular phylogenetic relationship...
167 Citations Source Cite
Cited By19
Newest
Published on May 29, 2019in Biologia 0.73
Jan Hinkelman (SAV: Slovak Academy of Sciences)
Morphological insect-insect mimicry is known from few Cretaceous cockroaches and a beetle. Formicamendax vrsanskyi gen. et sp. n. (Blattaria, Alienopteridae) shows myrmecomorph features such as an elongated, smooth and black body, simple fenestrated hindwing, legs lacking protective spines. Elbowed or “geniculate “antenna is a typical character of advanced ants and weevils used for different forms of communication. Together with reduced mouthparts and specialized palps still preserved grasping f...
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Published on Jan 1, 2019in Biologia 0.73
Peter Vršanský1
Estimated H-index: 1
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Lucia Šmídová3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Charles University in Prague)
+ 14 AuthorsXiaojie Lei1
Estimated H-index: 1
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Myrmecophilous and termitophilous interactions likely contributed to the competitive advantage and evolutionary success of eusocial insects, but how these commensal and parasitic relationships originated is unclear due to absence of fossil records. New extinct cockroaches of the still living family Blattidae are reported here from the Cretaceous Myanmar amber (99 Ma) and are the earliest known inhabitants of complex ant nests, demonstrating that this specialised myrmecophily originated shortly a...
5 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2018
Qi Zhang1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Qufu Normal University),
Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn13
Estimated H-index: 13
(RAS: Russian Academy of Sciences)
+ 1 AuthorsHaichun Zhang20
Estimated H-index: 20
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract The Burmese amber assemblage of Hymenoptera with its 47 constituent families is now the richest in Cretaceous. A collection of Burmite (Burmese amber) from the Hukawng Valley, Myanmar at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences was examined, revealing that Burmite inclusions contain a very highly diverse hymenopteran fauna with as many as ten families found new for the Burmese fossil assemblage. The mid-Cretaceous hymenopteran fauna of Burmese ambe...
5 Citations Source Cite
Published on Oct 1, 2018in Biologia 0.73
Peter Vršanský10
Estimated H-index: 10
(SAV: Slovak Academy of Sciences),
Günter Bechly11
Estimated H-index: 11
+ 20 AuthorsSonia Bigalk1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart)
Batesian mimicry is a relationship in which a harmful organism (the model) is mimicked by a harmless organism (the mimic), which gains protection because predators mistake it for the model. It is the most widely studied of mimicry complexes and has undoubtedly played an important role in the speciation of various animals especially insects. However, little is known about the early evolution of this important behavior and its evolutionary significance owing to a dearth of paleontological records....
5 Citations Source Cite
Published on Sep 1, 2018in Cretaceous Research 2.12
Daercio A. A. Lucena1
Estimated H-index: 1
(FFCLRP: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto),
Gabriel A. R. Melo18
Estimated H-index: 18
(UFPR: Federal University of Paraná)
Abstract Representatives of chrysidid wasps are described for the first time from inclusions in Late Cretaceous Burmese amber. Five new genera and new species are described and illustrated: † Auricleptes nebulosus gen. et sp. nov., † Azanichrum pilosum gen. et sp. nov., † Bohartiura glabrata gen. et sp. nov., † Burmasega ammirabilis gen. et sp. nov., and † Miracorium tetrafoveolatum gen. et sp. nov. We coded 49 morphological characters for species representing the subfamilies Amiseginae, Lobosce...
4 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 19, 2018in European Journal of Entomology
John E. Lattke11
Estimated H-index: 11
,
Thibaut Delsinne8
Estimated H-index: 8
+ 1 AuthorsRoberto J. Guerrero1
Estimated H-index: 1
The ants of the genus Protalaridris are revised based upon their morphology. Seven species are recognized; the type species (P. armata Brown, 1980) and six species described as new: P. aculeata Lattke & Alpert, sp. n., P. arhuaca Guerrero, Lattke & Alpert, sp. n., P. bordoni Lattke, sp. n., P. leponcei Delsinne & Lattke, sp. n., P. loxanensis Lattke, sp. n., and P. punctata Lattke, sp. n. The genus is patchily distributed in mesic forested areas from western Panama to northern Venezuela and alon...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 17, 2018in ZooKeys 1.14
Michael S. Engel36
Estimated H-index: 36
,
Diying Huang18
Estimated H-index: 18
+ 1 AuthorsAbdulaziz S. Alqarni10
Estimated H-index: 10
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 16, 2018in PeerJ 2.35
Julian Katzke (University of Bonn), Phillip Barden6
Estimated H-index: 6
(NJIT: New Jersey Institute of Technology)
+ 2 AuthorsTorsten Wappler20
Estimated H-index: 20
(University of Bonn)
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