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New insects feeding on dinosaur feathers in mid-Cretaceous amber

Published on Dec 10, 2019in Nature Communications11.878
· DOI :10.1038/s41467-019-13516-4
Taiping Gao11
Estimated H-index: 11
(Capital Normal University),
Xiangchu Yin3
Estimated H-index: 3
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 5 AuthorsDong Ren27
Estimated H-index: 27
(Capital Normal University)
Sources
Abstract
Due to a lack of Mesozoic fossil records, the origins and early evolution of feather-feeding behaviors by insects are obscure. Here, we report ten nymph specimens of a new lineage of insect, Mesophthirus engeli gen et. sp. nov. within Mesophthiridae fam. nov. from the mid-Cretaceous (ca. 100 Mya) Myanmar (Burmese) amber. This new insect clade shows a series of ectoparasitic morphological characters such as tiny wingless body, head with strong chewing mouthparts, robust and short antennae having long setae, legs with only one single tarsal claw associated with two additional long setae, etc. Most significantly, these insects are preserved with partially damaged dinosaur feathers, the damage of which was probably made by these insects’ integument-feeding behaviors. This finding demonstrates that feather-feeding behaviors of insects originated at least in mid-Cretaceous, accompanying the radiation of feathered dinosaurs including early birds. Numerous feathered dinosaurs and early birds have been discovered from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but the early evolution of feather-feeding insects is not clear. Here, Gao et al. describe a new family of ectoparasitic insects from 10 specimens found associated with feathers in mid-Cretaceous amber.
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References28
Newest
#1Andrew J. Ross (National Museum of Scotland)H-Index: 18
A list of all known taxa described or recorded from Burmese amber from the published literature up to the end of 2018 is given, along with a comprehensive bibliography. The history of the study of inclusions is summarised, and demonstrates that the number of species has risen exponentially over the past two decades. The first three species were named in 1916 and by the end of 1920 a total of 42 species had been named by T.D.A. Cockerell. Only three more species were named by 1999 though by the e...
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#1Davide Badano (UniGe: University of Genoa)H-Index: 3
#2Michael S. Engel (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 37
Last. Pierfilippo CerrettiH-Index: 13
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Myrmeleontiformia are an ancient group of lacewing insects characterized by predatory larvae with unusual morphologies and behaviours. Mostly soil dwellers with a soft cuticle, their larvae fossilize only as amber inclusions, and thus their fossil record is remarkably sparse. Here, we document a disparate assemblage of myrmeleontiform larvae from the mid-Cretaceous amber (99 Ma) of Myanmar, evidence of a considerable diversification. Our cladistic analysis integrating extant and extinct taxa res...
6 CitationsSource
#1Ute Stenkewitz (University of Iceland)H-Index: 7
#2Ólafur K. Nielsen (Nielsen Holdings N.V.)H-Index: 5
Last. Gunnar Stef ´ ansson (University of Iceland)H-Index: 15
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Feather holes have traditionally been suggested to be feeding traces of chewing lice (mallophagans). There is controversy whether mallophagans are the real source of feather holes. We studied mallophagan infestations and holes in tail feathers of 528 rock ptarmigan Lagopus muta collected 2007–2012 in northeast Iceland. Three mallophagans were found, Amyrsidea lagopi (prevalence 13%), Goniodes lagopi (72%) and Lagopoecus affinis (51%). The prevalence of feather holes was 15% and based on pattern ...
1 CitationsSource
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 19
#2Ryan C. McKellar (University of Regina)H-Index: 13
Last. Philip J. Currie (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 52
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Summary In the two decades since the discovery of feathered dinosaurs [1–3], the range of plumage known from non-avialan theropods has expanded significantly, confirming several features predicted by developmentally informed models of feather evolution [4–10]. However, three-dimensional feather morphology and evolutionary patterns remain difficult to interpret, due to compression in sedimentary rocks [9, 11]. Recent discoveries in Cretaceous amber from Canada, France, Japan, Lebanon, Myanmar, an...
41 CitationsSource
#1Shûhei Yamamoto (Kyushu University)H-Index: 11
#2Munetoshi Maruyama (Kyushu University)H-Index: 10
Last. Joseph Parker (Columbia University)H-Index: 10
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The evolution of eusociality in ants and termites propelled both insect groups to their modern ecological dominance. Yet, eusociality also fostered the evolution of social parasitism—an adverse symbiosis, in which the superorganismal colonies formed by these insects are infiltrated by a profusion of invertebrate species that target nest resources. Predominant among these are the aleocharine rove beetles (Staphylinidae), a vast and ecologically diverse subfamily with numerous morphologically and ...
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#1Phillip Barden (RU: Rutgers University)H-Index: 9
#2David A. Grimaldi (CUNY: City University of New York)H-Index: 41
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...
35 CitationsSource
#1Michael S. Engel (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 37
#2Phillip Barden (RU: Rutgers University)H-Index: 9
Last. David A. Grimaldi (AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)H-Index: 41
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Summary A hallmark of animals that are eusocial, or those with advanced sociality, is reproductive specialization into worker and queen castes [1–3]. In the most derived societies, these divisions are essentially fixed and in some arthropods, include further specialization—a tripartite system with a soldier caste that defends the colony [1]. Eusociality has originated numerous times among insects but is believed to have appeared first in the termites (Isoptera), in the Early Cretaceous [4]. Howe...
28 CitationsSource
#1Xing Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 44
#2ZHOUZhonghe (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 47
Last. David J. Varricchio (MSU: Montana State University)H-Index: 28
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Research on the origin and evolution of birds has gathered pace in recent years, aided by a continuous stream of new fossil finds as well as molecular phylogenies. Bird origins, in particular, are now better understood than those of mammals, for which the early fossil record is relatively poor compared with that of birds. Xu et al. review progress in tracing the origins of birds from theropod dinosaurs, focusing especially on recent fossil finds of feathered dinosaurs of northeastern China. They...
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#1Taiping Gao (Capital Normal University)H-Index: 11
#2Chungkun Shih (Capital Normal University)H-Index: 19
Last. Dong Ren (Capital Normal University)H-Index: 27
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Background Fleas, the most notorious insect ectoparasites of human, dogs, cats, birds, etc., have recently been traced to its basal and primitive ancestors during the Middle Jurassic. Compared with extant fleas, these large basal fleas have many different features. Although several fossil species with transitional morphologies filled the evolutionary blank, the early evolution of these ectoparasites is still poorly known.
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#1Christian FothH-Index: 11
#2Helmut TischlingerH-Index: 3
Last. Oliver W. M. RauhutH-Index: 28
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The discovery of numerous feathered dinosaurs and early birds has set the iconic 'Urvogel' (or 'first bird') Archaeopteryx in a broader context. But this venerable taxon still has the capacity to surprise. A newly discovered specimen from the Solnhofen limestone in Bavaria only the eleventh since 1861 shows a generous covering of feathers all over the body. Of particular note is a hindlimb covering resembling feathered 'trousers'. Analysis of feather distribution on the limbs and tail strongly s...
97 CitationsSource
Cited By1
Newest
#1Sheng LiH-Index: 1
Last. Yunzhi YaoH-Index: 10
view all 4 authors...
Abstract A new genus, Burmempheria Li, Wang & Yao, gen. nov., with two new species, Burmempheria densuschaetae Li, Wang & Yao, sp. nov. and Burmempheria raruschaetae Li, Wang & Yao, sp. nov., are assigned to the Empheriidae (Trogiomorpha). This is the first finding of Empheriidae from Myanmar amber which enriches the geographical record. The rows of forewing vein setae cannot distinguish Empheriidae from Archaeatropidae. Empheriidae and Archaeatropidae may synonym.
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