Nav: Home

Amber unveils evolution of ancient antlions

August 22, 2018

Myrmeleontiformia (antlions and their relatives) are an ancient group of lacewing insects characterized by predatory larvae with unusual morphologies and behaviors.

An international team led by Prof. WANG Bo from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) and two Italian researchers found fossil Myrmeleontiformia fauna from mid-Cretaceous (approximately 100 million years ago) Burmese amber. The study was published in Nature Communications on August 22, 2018.

Their findings show that Myrmeleontiformia did not gain considerable morphological novelty during the subsequent 100 million years, and their diversity seemed to result from different combinations of a limited set of character traits in a complex trade-off.

This morphological stasis helped in reconstructing behaviors not preserved by a trace in the fossil record. Inference of these behaviors shed light on the ecological niche and lifestyle of extinct Myrmeleontiformia.

Statistical correlation analysis strongly supported a correlation between a selection of morphological traits and two hunting strategies of these ambush predators - camouflaging and fossoriality - allowing us to reconstruct habits of extinct species.

The findings suggested that fossorial specializations evolved more than once across Myrmeleontiformia from arboreal ancestors. The fossorial lifestyle of antlions was certainly one of the factors leading to their success, allowing these insects to colonize and diversify in arid habitats where they survived considerable changes in terrestrial environments during the Cretaceous lineages.

The Burmese fossils showed that debris-carrying characterized this lineage for at least 100 million years. All of these camouflaging lacewings were equipped with elongate protuberances. The strong statistical correlation between the presence of these protuberances and camouflaging behavior demonstrated that this trait is an indicator of such behavior, even when the debris covering is not directly preserved in the amber piece together with the larvae.

This research also implies that camouflaging behavior arose at least three times within Myrmeleontiformia. Camouflaging and fossoriality appear widespread across the lineage, and both behaviors allowed the predatory larvae to hide from their unsuspecting prey.
-end-


Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Related Behavior Articles:

Religious devotion as predictor of behavior
'Religious Devotion and Extrinsic Religiosity Affect In-group Altruism and Out-group Hostility Oppositely in Rural Jamaica,' suggests that a sincere belief in God -- religious devotion -- is unrelated to feelings of prejudice.
Brain stimulation influences honest behavior
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest.
Brain pattern flexibility and behavior
The scientists analyzed an extensive data set of brain region connectivity from the NIH-funded Human Connectome Project (HCP) which is mapping neural connections in the brain and makes its data publicly available.
Butterflies: Agonistic display or courtship behavior?
A study shows that contests of butterflies occur only as erroneous courtships between sexually active males that are unable to distinguish the sex of the other butterflies.
Sedentary behavior associated with diabetic retinopathy
In a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, Paul D.
Curiosity has the power to change behavior for the better
Curiosity could be an effective tool to entice people into making smarter and sometimes healthier decisions, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Campgrounds alter jay behavior
Anyone who's gone camping has seen birds foraging for picnic crumbs, and according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the availability of food in campgrounds significantly alters jays' behavior and may even change how they interact with other bird species.
A new tool for forecasting the behavior of the microbiome
A team of investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Massachusetts have developed a suite of computer algorithms that can accurately predict the behavior of the microbiome -- the vast collection of microbes living on and inside the human body.
Is risk-taking behavior contagious?
Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe?
Neural connectivity dictates altruistic behavior
A new study suggests that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain dictates whether a person's altruism was motivated by selfish or altruistic behavior.

Related Behavior Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#514 Arctic Energy (Rebroadcast)
This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south.