Thursday 13 December 2012

A Rove Beetle from the Late Triassic of Virginia.

The Beetles are generally considered to be the most successful group of Insects, with over 360 000 known species and a fossil record that dates back to the Permian (or possibly the Carboniferous, depending on which experts you talk to). They are thought to have been the first Insects to adopt a burrowing and boring lifestyle while retaining the ability to fly, an ability associated with the specialized electra that define the group; hardened fore-wings modified to form a protective covering over the still-functional hind wings. 

In a paper published in the American Museum Novitates on 18 October 2012, Stylianos Chatzimanolis of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, David Grimaldi and Michael Engel of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology (Entomology) at the American Museum of Natural History, and Nicholas Fraser of the National Museum of Scotland describe a Rove Beetle from the Late Triassic Cow Branch Formation of southern Virginia. This is the earliest known Rove Beetle, a group distinguished by their diminished electra, which only cover half of the hindwings.

The new species is named Leehermania prorova, meaning Lee Herman's First Rove Beetle, after Lee Herman, an entomologist and expert on Rove Beetles at the American Museum of Natural History. It is a 2-3 mm Rove Beetle of unknown colouration, preserved as silvery films of aluminosilicates on fine-grained lacustrine shale.

(Left) Photomicrograph of a specimen of Leehermania prorova. (Right) Interpretive drawing of the same. Chatzimanolis et al. (2012).

Second specimen of Leehermania prorova, showing part and counterpart (two parts of the same fossil on two halves of a piece of rock that has been split in half. Chatzimanolis et al. (2012).

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