Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mating mites trapped in amber reveal sex role reversal

Date:
March 1, 2011
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
In the mating game, some female mites are mightier than their mates, new research suggests. The evidence comes, in part, from 40 million-year-old mating mites preserved in Baltic amber.

Side view of a mating pair of the extinct mite Glaesacarus rhombeus, preserved in amber. In this species, the usual sex roles are reversed, with females in control of mating.
Credit: Ekaterina Sidorchuk

In the mating game, some female mites are mightier than their mates, new research at the University of Michigan and the Russian Academy of Sciences suggests. The evidence comes, in part, from 40 million-year-old mating mites preserved in Baltic amber.

Related Articles


In a paper published March 1 in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, researchers Pavel Klimov and Ekaterina Sidorchuk describe an extinct mite species in which the traditional sex roles were reversed.

"In this species, it is the female who has partial or complete control of mating," said Klimov, an associate research scientist at the U-M Museum of Zoology. "This is in contrast to the present-day reproductive behavior of many mite species where almost all aspects of copulation are controlled by males."

In mites, as in other animals including humans, the battle of the sexes has been raging throughout evolutionary history. Each gender struggles to get the upper hand to assure that their interests are protected. In the case of mites, males benefit from coercing females to mate and making sure no other males mate with them. Harassing reluctant females, guarding females before and after mating and fighting off competing males are typical behaviors.

Females, on the other hand, gain an evolutionary advantage if they have some control over matters of mating. This allows them to choose superior males to mate with, while rejecting losers (who may be, however, extremely adept at coercing females), and it spares them the wear and tear of being subjected to harassment, guarding and frequent copulation.

In the extinct mite species Glaesacarus rhombeus, the male lacks the specialized organs for clinging to females that are seen in many present-day mites. The female, however, has a pad-like projection on her rear end that allows her to control the clinging. A remarkably preserved copulating pair of mites found in amber gave Klimov and Sidorchuk a glimpse at how the apparatus worked.

Structures found in some living mites also show evidence of female control over mating, Klimov said. "Some lineages have developed female copulatory tubes that function like a penis."

Klimov's coauthor, Ekaterina Sidorchuk, is a researcher at the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pavel B. Klimov, Ekaterina A. Sidorchuk. An enigmatic lineage of mites from Baltic amber shows a unique, possibly female-controlled, mating. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011; 102 (3): 661 DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2010.01595.x

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Mating mites trapped in amber reveal sex role reversal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228183851.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2011, March 1). Mating mites trapped in amber reveal sex role reversal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228183851.htm
University of Michigan. "Mating mites trapped in amber reveal sex role reversal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110228183851.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins