Ancient, newly recognized ‘mammoth weevil’ used big ‘trunk’ to struggle for mates — ScienceDay by day


Oregon State University analysis has recognized a 100-million-year-old weevil in contrast to another identified fossilized or residing weevil.

George Poinar Jr., a world skilled in utilizing plant and animal life varieties preserved in amber to study in regards to the biology and ecology of the distant previous, calls the male specimen a “mammoth weevil” due to its “monstrous trunk” — often known as the weevil’s rostrum or beak.

Poinar mentioned Rhamphophorus legalovii, because the long-bodied weevil fossil is thought scientifically, most likely wielded its trunk as a weapon whereas in fight with different males over females.

Encased in Burmese amber, the specimen represents a brand new tribe, genus and species. Rhamphophorus derives from a pair of Greek phrases that means “curving beak” and “to bear,” and legalovii honors Russian weevil specialist Andrei A. Legalov.

“Entomologists can be discussing the systematic placement of this fossil for years since it’s so weird,” mentioned Poinar, who has a courtesy appointment within the OSU College of Science.

Findings had been revealed in Cretaceous Research.

There are almost 100,000 identified species of weevils — small, plant-eating beetles identified for his or her elongated snouts. Well-known North American species are the boll weevil that assaults cotton, the alfalfa weevil and the strawberry root weevil.

Weevils with straight antennae are categorized as primitive weevils, and people whose antennae characteristic an elbow-like bend are generally known as true weevils; Rhamphophorus is a primitive weevil with an 11-segment antenna and Poinar positioned it within the Nemonychidae household, whose members are generally known as “pine flower weevils.”

“The story of the household’s historic historical past is instructed by species in Mesozoic amber deposits, though no extinct or extant species with such elongated rostrums are identified,” he mentioned. “The larvae and adults of many nemonychids eat pollen from creating male cones of pines and different conifers.”

The newly recognized weevil genus and species belongs to the sub-family Cimberidinae, consisting of notably long-nosed weevils whose bodily traits are developed like extremely specialised instruments. Of the 70 identified species of Cimberidinae, many are sexually dimorphic — women and men look fairly completely different from each other. Thus the feminine of Rhamphophorusprobably had a a lot shorter rostrum.

The new weevil, which doubtless lived on the bottom moderately than in timber, is 5.5 millimeters lengthy, virtually half of which is head and rostrum. The amber during which it’s preserved got here from the Noije Bum 2001 Summit Site mine first excavated in Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley in 2001.

“Rhamphophorushad prolonged center foot segments which may have elevated its potential to understand plant surfaces or higher attain its foes throughout fights for females,” Poinar mentioned. “It could be fascinating to know if females additionally had this characteristic.”

Injuries suffered by Rhamphophorus recommend it might have been doing battle with one other male over a feminine simply earlier than it fell into the resin and was preserved.

“Rhamphophorus reveals many options unknown on residing or extinct fossil weevils,” Poinar mentioned. “It reveals how an grownup beetle can grow to be so specialised that even its household place might be questioned. Certainly life-style along side microhabitat influenced the evolutionary growth of this weevil, which provides us an thrilling glimpse of morphological range in mid-Cretaceous weevils.”

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Materials supplied by Oregon State University. Original written by Steve Lundeberg. Note: Content could also be edited for type and size.



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