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Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 17;9(1):3793. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06120-5.

High niche diversity in Mesozoic pollinating lacewings.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 210008, Nanjing, China.
2
Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, 100193, Beijing, China.
3
Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Linyi University, 276000, Linyi, China.
4
Three Gorges Entomological Museum, P.O. Box 4680, 400015, Chongqing, China.
5
Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, 100193, Beijing, China. liuxingyue@cau.edu.cn.
6
State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 210008, Nanjing, China. bowang@nigpas.ac.cn.
7
Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Science, 100101, Beijing, China. bowang@nigpas.ac.cn.

Abstract

Niche diversity of pollinating insects plays a vital role in maintaining extant terrestrial ecosystems. A key dimension of pollination niches refers to the insect proboscis length that commonly matches the floral tube length. Here we describe new kalligrammatid lacewings (an iconic Mesozoic pollinating insect lineage) from late Cretaceous Burmese amber and Mesozoic sediments in China. Kalligrammatids display complex configurations of elongate mouthpart elements consisting of well-developed maxillae, labium and their palps. The mouthpart lengths vary among species, from 0.6 to 18.0 mm, suggesting corresponding variability in the floral tube lengths of Mesozoic plants. With the diversification of pollinating habits, the kalligrammatids presented highly divergent traits related to chemical communication and defence mechanisms. Together with other Mesozoic long-proboscid insects, these fossils not only reveal the high niche diversity of Mesozoic pollinating insects but also highlight the diversity of Mesozoic pollinator-dependent plants prior to the rise of angiosperms.

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