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.

Triassic beetle discovery in Dutch Winterswijk


This video from the USA says about itself:

New Evidence Connects Dung Beetle Evolution to Dinosaurs

4 May 2016

Dr. Nicole Gunter, invertebrate zoology collections manager at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, discusses research that uncovered an evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and dung beetles. The findings place the origin of dung beetles in the Lower Cretaceous period, with the first major diversification occurring in the middle of the Cretaceous.

By Janene Pieters on April 25, 2017 – 12:25:

A very rare fossil of a beetle that lived in the Netherlands 200 million years ago was found in a quarry in Winterswijk, according to a scientific publication in Paläontologische Zeitschrift written by paleontologists from Utrecht University,

From Paläontologische Zeitschrift:

New fossil insects from the Anisian (Lower to Middle Muschelkalk) from the Central European Basin (Germany and The Netherlands)

22 April 2017

Abstract

The Palaeozoic–Mesozoic transition is characterized not only by the most massive Phanerozoic mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, but also its extensive aftermath and a prolonged period of major biotal recovery during the succeeding Middle to Late Triassic.

Particularly, Anisian insect species from units of the Lower to Middle Muschelkalk from the Central European Basin are rare.

The Anisian is from 247.2 million years ago until 242 million years ago. So, older than the ‘200 million years ago’ of the Janene Pieters article.

The specimens described here originated from the Anisian Wellenkalk facies (Lower Muschelkalk), Vossenveld Formation of the Winterswijk quarry, The Netherlands, and from the orbicularis Member (lowermost Middle Muschelkalk, Anisian) of Esperstedt near Querfurt (Saxony-Anhalt).

Thus, the described insect remains from Winterwijk and Esperstedt expand our knowledge about Middle Triassic terrestrial arthropod communities and their palaeodiversity. A new species of Chauliodites (C. esperstedti sp. nov) is introduced.

Water beetle crawls under ice


This 22 January 2017 video shows a beetle crawling under ice on the IJssel river in the Netherlands. Very probably, a great silver water beetle.

E. Ehrlich made this video.

Palmetto weevil in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

18 January 2017

Florida Palmetto Weevil – is a huge “bug” and this is the first one I have ever seen in the Backyard or anywhere! …

The largest weevil in North America is the palmetto weevil, Rhynchophorus cruentatus Fabricius. The palmetto weevil is native to Florida and until recently was the only species of palm weevil in the continental United States. Once, the palmetto weevil was considered a minor pest, attacking only severely wounded and dying trees. However, it is now known to be a pest of stressed nursery and transplanted palms as well as apparently healthy Canary Island date, Bismarck (Bismarckia nobilis) and Latan (Latania spp.) palms. The adults of this species display various color variations. They can also be quite variable in overall size.

Weevils are a family of beetle that have their mandibles at the end of a, sometimes, very long rostrum (a snoutlike projection of the head). In fact, the rostrum of some weevils (i.e., nut weevils) is as long as their bodies. These modified mouthparts are used for feeding and to prepare holes in host plant material in which eggs are laid. Weevils are a large, diverse and important group of insects. Most feed on plant material, and many are considered to be economic pests. While some adults feed outside the plant, the larvae (or grubs), which have relatively large mandibles and are legless, feed cryptically within the host plant.

Worldwide, there are ten described species of weevils in the genus Rhynchophorus that feed on palms.

The ‘Florida’ palmetto weevil, Rhynchophorus cruentatus, has been reported from coastal regions of South Carolina south through the Florida Keys, and west into coastal Texas. It is also present throughout the state of Florida. Fossil records suggest that the palmetto weevil was present in Florida during the Pleistocene (about 1 million years ago).

Read more here.

New Samoan beetle species discovered, already extinct


Holotype specimen of Bryanites graeffii. Image credit: J.K. Liebherr

From Sci News:

Bryanites graeffii: New Beetle Species Described from 150-Year-Old Museum Specimen

Jan 11, 2017 by News Staff

A new species of ground beetle has been identified by Cornell University Professor James Liebherr.

Bryanites graeffii is described from Samoa based on a single male specimen collected between 1862-1870 that was recently discovered in the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris,” Prof. Liebherr said.

“The species epithet honors Dr. Eduard Graeffe, zoologist and naturalist from Zurich, Switzerland who collected the specimen while working in Samoa from 1862-1870. The species epithet is formed from Gräffe converted to Latin iconography, and without the terminal letter,” he explained.

The new species belongs to Bryanites, a genus of beetles in the family Carabidae that was previously known from two species represented by two specimens only, collected in 1924 from Savai’i Island, Samoa, by Edwin H. Bryan, Jr., Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu, during the Bishop Museum’s Whitney South Seas Expedition.

Much like the rest of the species within the genus, Bryanites graeffii showed vestigial flight wings and other traits associated with flight-wing loss.

However, at length of 1.62 cm it is the largest for the taxonomic group it is now assigned to.

Although this may seem way too obvious for taxonomists to overlook, the beetle’s relatives are just as obscure.

“As a result, we now have three species representing an evolutionary radiation in Samoa, all known from single specimens collected long ago,” Prof. Liebherr said.

The phylogenetics of the three Bryanites species link them to other groups from Fiji and New Zealand.

“What is the advantage of knowledge about species that existed some 90-150 years ago, but no longer? It might actually point us to the actual level of impact mankind has on natural ecosystems,” Prof. Liebherr said.

“The cause of the likely extermination of Bryanites graeffi might never be known with certainty, however, the colonization of many Pacific islands by the Polynesian rat has always been followed by the diminution or elimination of native insect species.”

“Thus, we can add another likely victim to the list of species that have been adversely impacted by mankind’s commensal voyagers.”

A detailed description of Bryanites graeffii appears in the Jan. 5 issue of the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

Rare rhinoceros beetles saved


This is a 2013 video from the Netherlands about rhinoceros beetles and their larvae.

They are a rare species in the Netherlands.

On 2 December 2013, many rhinoceros beetles in Noord-Brabant province in the Netherlands were saved from death.

Translated from Omroep Brabant in the Netherlands, 1 December 2016:

A while ago, Hans van der Staak received a special phone call. He works at Den Ouden in Schijndel, a company that makes compost from wood chips. “A customer called. He had a big wood chips pile which had been lying there for years.”

Hans went to check and made an extraordinary discovery. “I quickly saw traces of larvae and immediately recognized that it had to be rhinoceros beetles.” The huge pile of wood chips proved to be special.

Trucks

“What do you do with such a mountain?” Hans asked. “It would be a shame to compost it.” He called the Brabants Landschap conservation organisation. When they discovered it was the indigenous rhino beetle they wanted to have the pile of wood chips.

On Friday [2 December], several trucks will bring the mountain of wood chips to the Herbertusbossen [woodland owned by Brabants Landschap] in Heeze.

South African dung beetle video


This video from South Africa says about itself:

23 November 2016

A dung beetle rolls his dung ball away from a midden before another male comes in and steals it.