The Weevil Fauna Preserved in Burmese Amber—Snapshot of a Unique, Extinct Lineage (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea)

Published on Dec 20, 2018in Diversity
· DOI :10.3390/d11010001
Dave J. Clarke6
Estimated H-index: 6
Ajay Limaye1
Estimated H-index: 1
+ 1 AuthorsRolf G. Oberprieler11
Estimated H-index: 11
Only a few weevils have been described from Burmese amber, and although most have been misclassified, they show unusual and specialised characters unknown in extant weevils. In this paper, we present the results of a study of a much larger and more diverse selection of Burmese amber weevils. We prepared all amber blocks to maximise visibility of structures and examined these with high-magnification light microscopy as well as CT scanning (selected specimens). We redescribe most previously described taxa and describe 52 new species in 26 new genera, accompanied by photographs. We compare critical characters of these weevils with those of extant taxa and outline the effects of distortion on their preservation and interpretation. We conclude that only two weevil families are thus far represented in Burmese amber, Nemonychidae and a newly recognised family, Mesophyletidae, which appears closely related to Attelabidae but cannot be accommodated in this family. The geniculate antennae and long rostrum with exodont mandibles of most Mesophyletidae indicate that they were highly specialised phytophages of early angiosperms preserved in the amber, likely ovipositing in flowers or seeds. This weevil fauna appears to represent an extinct mid-Cretaceous ecosystem and fills a critical gap in the fossil record of weevils.
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