Friday 30 May 2014

A Pine Cone Weevil from Cretaceous Burmese amber.

Pince Cone Weevils (Nemonychidae) are thought likely to be the oldest group of surviving Weevils (Curculionoidea), making their understanding their evolution important for our understanding of Weevils as a whole. Modern Pine Cone Weevils feed on pollen of Pines and related Gymnosperms (non-flowering Seed Plants), and it is possible that they may have played a role in the origin of Insect-pollination in Flowering Plants.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 28 April 2014, Steven Davis and Michael Engle of the Division of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas describe a fossil Pine Weevil preserved in Cretaceous amber from the Hukawng Valley in Kachin State in northern Myanmar, thought to be about 99 million years old.

The new species is given the name Burmonyx zigrasi, where ‘Burmonyx’ means ‘Burmese night’ and ‘zigrasi’ honours James Zigras, from whose collection the specimen came. Burmonyx zigrasi is a 2.2 mm Pine Cone Weevil, which was apparently brown in life. Its dorsal surface has a dense covering of setae (hairs).

Photomicrograph and line drawing of Burmonyx zigrasi. (Top) Photomicrograph in dorso-lateral view of specimen inclusion, arrow pointing to antennal scape. (Bottom) Line drawing of specimen (scale bar only applies to this figure). Davis & Engle (2014).

See also…

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Palm Weevils of the genus Anchylorhynchus are found from Panama to Argentina. They have a symbiotic relationship with Palms of the genera Butia, Cocos, Oenocarpus and Syagrus, with the adults acting...

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