Monday 2 October 2017

Kuskaella macroptera: A new species of Malthinine Soldier Beetle from Eocene Baltic Amber.

Soldier Beetles, Cantharidae, are an extremely diverse and widespread group of elongate, soft-bodied Beetles related to Click Beetles and Fireflies, found on every continent except Antarctica.. They get their name from the red colouration of one of the earliest species descried, which resembled the colour of the red jackets worn by British soldiers in the eighteenth century, rather than any particularly aggressive behaviour. They are most commonly found in forested environments, where they feed on leaf-dwelling invertebrates and pollen and nectar from flowers. Soldier Beetles have a fossil record dating back to the Early Cretaceous, though most fossil Soldier Beetles known are from post-Cretaceous deposits. The Malthininae are one of five subfamilies of Soldier Beetles, distinguished by a smaller size, reduced elytra (wing cases) leaving the ends of the wings exposed, and a habit of mating abdomen-tip to abdomen-tip, rather than with the male on top as in other groups.

In a paper published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica on 18 September 2017, Fabrizio Fanti of Piazze in Italy and Janusz Kupryjanowicz of the Andrzej Myrcha Nature Center at the University of Białystok, describe a new species of Malthinine Soldier Beetle from a piece of Middle-to-Late Eocene Baltic Amber from the coast of the Gdansk Region in Poland.

The species is named Kuskaella macroptera, where 'Kuskaella' honours Antoni Kuśka (1940–2010), for his expertise on Soldier Beetles, and 'macroptera' means 'large wings' in reference to the elongate elytra of the species. The species is described from two specimens, a male and a female, preserved in the same piece of amber, the male being 3.5-3.6 mm in length and the female 3.9-4.2 mm.

Soldier Beetle Kuskaella macroptera in Baltic amber, middle Eocene to late Eocene; Poland, Gdańsk region. Male in dorsal and female in ventral views. Fanti & Kupryjanowicz (2017).

See also...
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.