Mysterious fossils provide new information in the evolution of insects


20/07/2011

German scientists from the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart recently discovered a new insect order, dwelt in the earlier Cretaceous period in South America. Grandiose fossils were named openers Coxoplectoptera, but details were published by them in a special issue devoted to the insects of the Cretaceous period of the scientific journal "Insect Systematics & Evolution".

A research team led by Dr. Arnold Stanizek (Arnold H. Staniczek) and Dr. Gunter Bechli (Gunter Bechly), both of which are experts insects of the order Diptera, and decided that these fossils are specimens of extinct relatives of modern mayflies (ancient squad winged insects which includes more than 3,000 species distributed around the globe.) Coxoplectoptera, however, differs significantly from both mayflies and all other known insect concerning the anatomy and lifestyle. Thanks to a new discovery of adult winged insect specimens and well-preserved larvae, the scientists managed to best explain the phylogenetic position of these animals and to provide a new hypothesis about the relationship of insects of the order Diptera.

With venous mayfly wings, breast shape and the shape of a dragonfly wing, and with his feet praying mantis, these winged insects are something like a cross between different animals. The peculiar larvae, however, resemble conventional freshwater shrimp. Their way of life was the main mystery to the experts: how fossil etched in stone, as well as some of their characteristic features clearly stipulate the river habitat.

Their unique anatomy indicates that these animals were predators, ambush, who lived at the bottom of the river. These animals among other things revealed conflicting information that gave rise to long discussions about the roots of the evolution of winged insects of the order: the scientists suggest that these wings were formed from the rib cage, whereas genes legs were formed to manage the development.

In any case, the discovery of an amazing insect Coxoplectoptera contributes to a better understanding of the evolution of the insect.

Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter


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