Dinosaur age beetles, parasites of ants


This video says about itself:

3 October 2014

Beetles have been known to invade ant colonies.

Now, scientists have discovered a 52-million-year old fossil of a beetle preserved in amber, which is the oldest example of that species ever found.

The beetle is part of a group that preys on ants by living along side them in the nest and then eating their eggs, or taking over their supplies.

There are around 370 species of beetles that participate in this kind of behavior, and experts say there could be several hundred more that haven’t yet been discovered.

Other predators give off pheromones that trigger the ants defense system to take down any threats.

These certain kinds of beetles are somehow able to avoid that, and live a comfortable life in the nest with the ants.

Lead researcher Joseph Parker, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University is quoted as saying: “These beetles live in a climate-controlled nest that is well protected against predators, and they have access to a great deal of food, including the ants’ eggs and brood, and most remarkably, liquid food regurgitated directly to their mouths by the worker ants themselves.”

The fossil is believed to be the first of its kind, with marked differences between the beetle’s body and those of modern species.

And now, an even older beetle with a similar lifestyle has been found.

From Science News:

Beetles have been mooching off insect colonies for millions of years

99-million-year-old amber shows two species that pilfered from ancient ants and termites

By Laurel Hamers

4:00pm, April 24, 2017

Mooching roommates are an ancient problem. Certain species of beetles evolved to live with and leech off social insects such as ants and termites as long ago as the mid-Cretaceous, two new beetle fossils suggest. The finds date the behavior, called social parasitism, to almost 50 million years earlier than previously thought.

Ants and termites are eusocial — they live in communal groups, sharing labor and collectively raising their young. The freeloading beetles turn that social nature to their advantage. They snack on their hosts’ larvae and use their tunnels for protection, while giving nothing in return.

Previous fossils have suggested that this social parasitism has been going on for about 52 million years. But the new finds push that date way back. The specimens, preserved in 99-million-year-old Burmese amber, would have evolved relatively shortly after eusociality is thought to have popped up.

One beetle, Mesosymbion compactus, was reported in Nature Communications in December 2016. A different group of researchers described the other, Cretotrichopsenius burmiticus, in Current Biology on April 13. Both species have shielded heads and teardrop-shaped bodies, similar to modern termite-mound trespassers. Those adaptations aren’t just for looks. Like a roommate who’s found his leftovers filched one too many times, termites frequently turn against their pilfering housemates.

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4 thoughts on “Dinosaur age beetles, parasites of ants

  1. Pingback: 507-million-year-old fossil arthropod discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: From dinosaurs to birds, new theory | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Dinosaur age and modern frog discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Beetle-ant symbiosis in the dinosaur age | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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