Sciences. A light beetle of 100 million years old found in amber
Madrid, 20 single. 2021 (Europa Press) –
A well-preserved light-producing beetle in amber for 99 million years highlighted the diversity of bioluminescent insects of the Cretaceous period.
With over 3,500 described species, light-producing beetles are the most bioluminescent wildlife variety. Fireflies, fire beetles, firefly beetles, and their relatives use light to ward off predators and attract mates, and some females use light to attract unsuspecting males to eat. Historically, despite its diversity, bioluminescence evolution in beetles has not been well understood.
“Most of the light-producing beetles are soft-bodied and very small, so they have little to no fossil record. However, this new fossil, found in amber from northern Myanmar, is exceptionally well preserved, including a member,” explains Dr. Chenyang Kai, a researcher at University of Bristol and Associate Professor at NIGPAS, “The light in her stomach is intact.”
The presence of a light organ in the abdomen of a male provides direct evidence that adult Cretophengodes were able to produce light, about 100 million years ago.
Yan Da Li of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology (NIGP) notes that “The newly discovered fossil, preserved with true fidelity in amber, represents an extinct relative of fireflies and living families (Rhagophthalmidae and Phengodidae.) And Beijing University in China.”
Most of the light-producing beetles belong to the giant superfamily Elateroidea, with about 24,000 known species and thousands more waiting to be described. The discovery of this beetle provides the missing fossil link between living families, and in so doing helps scientists understand how these beetles evolved and how they should be classified.
“Elateroidea is one of the most heterogeneous groups of beetles and one that has always been very difficult for entomologists to manage, especially since important anatomical innovations have evolved independently many times in unrelated groups. The discovery of a new family of extinct beetles It is important because it helps shed light on These amazing beetles have evolved, “explains Eric Tehelka from the School of Earth Sciences.
“We believe that light production initially evolved in soft and vulnerable beetle larvae as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from predators. The fossil shows that light production in the Cretaceous period was absorbed by adults as well. It would have been chosen. To serve other functions such as pairing,” “Says Robin Kondratha, an expert on electrode beetles at the University of Balaki in the Czech Republic.
Light-producing beetles often have unusual adaptations. One of the most surprising things is that the females do not resemble their male counterparts and instead retain many of the characteristics of larvae into adulthood.
“A perfect example of this is the trilobite beetle, where the females do not look like beetles at all and instead superficially resemble trilobites. This means that the females are often neglected when gathering in the field. We want to focus on these unusual beetles when searching. About the fossil record for the next few years, “said Yan Da Li.
The work has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.