Saturday, 2 August 2014

A Platygastrid Wasp from Miocene Peruvian Amber.

Platygastrid Wasps are a large group of (mostly very small) parasitoid Wasps (Wasps whose larvae develop inside the bodies of a living animal host), found across the globe. They have a long fossil record, being abundant in Mesozoic amber, and also known from many Tertiary ambers, though they appear to be less numerous and diverse in the Tertiary to in the Mesozoic.  The group is not well studied; there are likely to be many undiscovered species in modern faunas, evolutionary relationships between different subgroups are poorly understood and the role of the Wasps in the wider ecology is not known, though it is likely to be significant as they parasitize the larvae and eggs of a wide range of Insects and Spiders.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 17 July 2014, a group of scientist led by Vincent Perrichot of Géosciences and Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes at Université Rennes and the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute describe a Platygastrid Wasp from amber from the Middle Miocene Pebas Formation at Tamshiyacu on the east bank of the Amazon about 30 km upstream of Iquitos in northeastern Peru. This is a newly discovered deposit, and as yet relatively few specimens have been recovered, however it is already considered to be of great importance, as it is the first known South American site yielding Miocene Insects.

The new specimen is placed in the genus Macroteleia, and given the specific name yaguarum in honour of the Yagua people, who live in the area where it was discovered. Macroteleia yaguarum is a 5.23 mm Platygastrid Wasp, largely dark brown in colour with an elongate, cylindrical body.

Macroteleia yaguarum in (A) right lateral and (B) dorsal views. Scale bar is 1 mm. Perrichot et al. (2014).

This is only the second fossil member of the genus Macroteleia described, the first being from Eocene Baltic amber (a fossil from the Isle of Wight previously assigned to this genus has now been redescribed and placed in a different one), but there are over 130 modern species found throughout the tropics, and a few from cooler climates. All are parasitoids targeting the eggs of Tettigoniidae (Katydids). It is also the sole fossil member of the genus from the Americas, predating considerably the establishment of a connection between North and South America. This suggests that South American, and by extension probably African and Australian, lineages within the genus are quite ancient, rather than recent arrivals from a Eurasian/North American ancestral group.

See also…


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Drydinid Wasps (Dryinidae) are small (under 10 mm) solitary Wasps found across the globe. Their larvae are parasitoids (i.e. the develop inside the body of a living host), typically of Leafhoppers and other True Bugs (Hemiptera). Drydinid larvae are unusual in that they often outgrow their hosts, protruding from the host body in a...




Platygastrid Wasps (Platygastridae) are...

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