Navigation Links
Big-headed fossil flies track major ecological revolution

Simon Fraser University's Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes are part of a team of biologists, including Christian Kehlmaier from Germany's Senkenberg Natural History Collections, that has discovered three new, extinct fossil species of big-headed flies.

According to their research, published recently by The Canadian Entomologist, these fossils show their early evolution parallels an ecological revolution, one that formed the character of our modern natural communities.

The three new species of fossil big-headed flies are members of the living family Pipunculidae. One fossil, Metanephrocerus belgardeae, is well-enough preserved to name as a new species. It is named in honour of its finder, Azure Rain Belgarde, a student at the Paschal Sherman Indian School, who uncovered it on a field trip to the fossil deposits at Republic, Washington state.

The other two unnamed, more enigmatic species are described from less complete fossils uncovered at Quilchena in southern British Columbia.

"Big-headed flies are a group of bizarre insects whose round heads are almost entirely covered by their bulging compound eyes, which they use to hunt for mainly leafhoppers and planthoppers, renowned common garden insect pests," says Archibald.

"The newly discovered species were preserved in Eocene epoch fossil beds that are 49 million to 52 million years old, which is about 12 million to 15 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. This great extinction event also disrupted forests in which the dinosaurs had lived, with mostly low diversity and greatly disrupted food webs for millions of years."

By the time of these flies in the Eocene, however, forests had diversified again, but this time with many new kinds of flowering plants that are familiar to us today, such as birches, maples, and many others.

Along with these new, rich forests came an expanding diversity of pollinators and herbivorous insects, and with them, diversification of their insect predators, including these big-headed flies.

"With these new discoveries, we see that the early history of these oddly shaped insect predators provides a part of the puzzle revealing the broad ecological-evolutionary revolution of expanding predator-prey relationships and increasing biodiversity during the formation of new ecosystems," says Archibald.


Contact: Bruce Archibald
Simon Fraser University

Related biology news :

1. Iconic Australasian trees found as fossils in South America
2. Fossil pigments reveal the colors of ancient sea monsters
3. Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants
4. Fossils clarify the origins of wasps and their kin: alderfly ancestors, snakefly cousins
5. Evolution, Civil War history entwine in plant fossil with a tragic past
6. Researchers use CT and 3-D printers to recreate dinosaur fossils
7. Fossil of new big cat species discovered; oldest ever found
8. Visualizing the past: Nondestructive imaging of ancient fossils
9. Emissions pricing revenues could overcompensate profit losses of fossil fuel owners
10. Tell-tale toes point to oldest-known fossil bird tracks from Australia
11. Fossil record shows crustaceans vulnerable as modern coral reefs decline
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/16/2016)... , June 16, 2016 ... size is expected to reach USD 1.83 billion ... Grand View Research, Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing ... applications are expected to drive the market growth. ... , The development of advanced multimodal ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint ... sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening ... ... ... Photo ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. ... a business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented ... branch project. This collaboration will result in greater ... the credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... --  Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design ... awarded as one of the World Economic Forum,s ... innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to ... in the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. ... including Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention ... recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital ... Sports Association to serve as their official health ... Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training ... association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., ... the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: