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segunda-feira, junho 27, 2016

Debris-carrying camouflage among diverse lineages of Cretaceous insects

Bo Wang1,2,3,*, Fangyuan Xia4, Michael S. Engel5, Vincent Perrichot6, Gongle Shi1, Haichun Zhang1, Jun Chen1,7, Edmund A. Jarzembowski1,8, Torsten Wappler2 and Jes Rust2

- Author Affiliations

1State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China.

2Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany.

3Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

4Nanjiao Bieshu 394, Shanghai 201108, China.

5Division of Entomology, Natural History Museum and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.

6CNRS UMR 6118 Géosciences and OSUR, Université de Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes, France.

7Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Linyi University, Linyi 276000, China.

8Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK.

↵*Corresponding author. Email:

Science Advances 24 Jun 2016: Vol. 2, no. 6, e1501918

Fig. 1
Chrysopoid larvae from Mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber.
(A) Morphotype CI, BA12018. An, antenna; Ba, barklouse; He, head; Ja, jaw; Ps, psyllid; Le, leg; Lt, long tubular tubercle; St, short tubular tubercle. Note the two arthropod exoskeletons (psyllid and barklouse) attached to tubular tubercles. (B) Morphotype CII, L14002, naked. (C) Morphotype CIII, BA12019, naked. (D) Morphotype CII, NIGP164061, camouflaged. (E) Morphotype CII, NIGP164054, camouflaged. Scale bars, 2 mm (A) and 1 mm (B to E).


Insects have evolved diverse methods of camouflage that have played an important role in their evolutionary success. Debris-carrying, a behavior of actively harvesting and carrying exogenous materials, is among the most fascinating and complex behaviors because it requires not only an ability to recognize, collect, and carry materials but also evolutionary adaptations in related morphological characteristics. However, the fossil record of such behavior is extremely scarce, and only a single Mesozoic example from Spanish amber has been recorded; therefore, little is known about the early evolution of this complicated behavior and its underlying anatomy. We report a diverse insect assemblage of exceptionally preserved debris carriers from Cretaceous Burmese, French, and Lebanese ambers, including the earliest known chrysopoid larvae (green lacewings), myrmeleontoid larvae (split-footed lacewings and owlflies), and reduviids (assassin bugs). These ancient insects used a variety of debris material, including insect exoskeletons, sand grains, soil dust, leaf trichomes of gleicheniacean ferns, wood fibers, and other vegetal debris. They convergently evolved their debris-carrying behavior through multiple pathways, which expressed a high degree of evolutionary plasticity. We demonstrate that the behavioral repertoire, which is associated with considerable morphological adaptations, was already widespread among insects by at least the Mid-Cretaceous. Together with the previously known Spanish specimen, these fossils are the oldest direct evidence of camouflaging behavior in the fossil record. Our findings provide a novel insight into early evolution of camouflage in insects and ancient ecological associations among plants and insects.

Keywords Cretaceous paleoecology paleoentomology paleobotany camouflage

Copyright © 2016, The Authors

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