Amber unveils evolution of ancient antlions

August 22, 2018, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Reconstruction of two lacewing larvae. Credit: YANG Dinghua

Myrmeleontiformia, consisting of 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 Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) and two Italian researchers found fossil Myrmeleontiformia fauna from the mid-Cretaceous (approximately 100 million years ago) preserved in 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 sheds light on the ecological niche and lifestyle of extinct Myrmeleontiformia.

Statistical correlation analysis strongly supports a correlation between a selection of and two hunting strategies of these ambush predators—camouflaging and fossoriality—allowing the researchers to reconstruct habits of the extinct species.

Diversity of lacewing larvae in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Credit: NIGPAS

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 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.

Phylogeny of Myrmeleontiformia based on larval morphology. Credit: NIGPAS

This research also implies that camouflaging 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.

Explore further: 100-million-year-old liverwort mimicry in insects

More information: Davide Badano et al, Diverse Cretaceous larvae reveal the evolutionary and behavioural history of antlions and lacewings, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05484-y

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elevyn_11_
1 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2018
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Myrmeleontiformia, you may be entitled to compensation
FredJose
1 / 5 (4) Aug 23, 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.

One needs to question how it is that organic matter was able to remain intact after such a long time. Is this assignment really true? Where is the demonstrated evidence that organic matter can last that long?
Furthermore, since this organism was once alive, I would venture that this remains should be tested for C14 content to rule out any possibility that it was alive within the last 50000 years. Ditto with the amber itself. I believe all such fossils should routinely be checked out for C14 content.
Now as to the quoted statement - here we again have a firm contradiction of the evolutionary paradigm - morphological stasis. This means that these fossils are basically the same as the modern counterpart.
Ojorf
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 23, 2018
One does not need to question such obvious things.
Science has already questioned and explained such obvious things. One needs a high school level science education in order to comprehend such obvious things. One needs to break oneself of one's unfortunate indoctrinations before one will be able to accept the truth. One needs to prioritize facts over feelings to comprehend reality.
Obviously.
TorbjornLarsson
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 23, 2018
This sounds like the usual creationist talking points:

One needs to question how it is that organic matter was able to remain intact after such a long time.


Fossils are rarely organic residue, the dead organisms have formed impressions or colors. Look up taphonomy. However, amber is a unique exception.

Furthermore, since this organism was once alive, I would venture that this remains should be tested for C14 content to rule out any possibility that it was alive within the last 50000 years.


Carbon dating is irrelevant for this dating. The paper refer to Shi, G. et al. Age constraint on Burmese amber based on U-Pb dating of zircons. Cretac. Res. 37, 155–163 (2012).

a firm contradiction of the evolutionary paradigm - morphological stasis.


It is inevitable that populations change genomes over generations. Apparent stasis would be just such; but the paper describes change however much you claim falsehoods, see the tree with speciation.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2018
One needs to question how it is that organic matter was able to remain intact after such a long time. Is this assignment really true? Where is the demonstrated evidence that organic matter can last that long?
Fred the godlover needs to question... if all the extinct and living species we've discovered were alive at the same time in reproductive populations of sufficient size, the entire planet would be chin deep in writhing animal flesh and plant debris?

Too much life, not enough time fred.

And we keep discovering more all the time, including all those intermediate species you guys refuse to acknowledge.

Anything is possible for the god who disregards evidence.

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