Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most ancient evidence of insect camouflage: 110 million years ago

Date:
December 11, 2012
Source:
Universidad de Barcelona
Summary:
An insect larva covered by plant remains that lived in the Early Cretaceous, about 110 million years ago, evidences the most ancient known insect camouflage, according to a new article.

The fossil is a predatory larva of the order Neuroptera covered by filamentous plant remains.
Credit: University of Barcelona

An insect larva covered by plant remains that lived in the Early Cretaceous, about 110 million years ago, evidences the most ancient known insect camouflage, according to a paper published in the last edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is based on the study of an amber piece found in 2008 in El Soplao outcrop (Cantabria, Northern Spain), the Mesozoic's richest and largest amber site in Europe.

To cover the body with detritus to camouflage

The fossil, about four millimetres long, is a predatory larva of the order Neuroptera. It is covered by a tangle of filamentous plant remains that it collected with its jaws to form a defensive shield and camouflage itself. This kind of behaviour, the trash-carrying, is a survival strategy observed in current species to render them nearly undetectable to predators and preys. The fossil, related to current green lacewings, represents a new genus and species designated Hallucinochrysa diogenesi, alluding to its bizarre appearance and resemblance to Diogenes syndrome, a human behavioural disorder characterized by compulsive hoarding of trash.

According to the study, the filamentous plant remains composing the larval trash packet are recognised as trichomes, that is, plant hairs with diverse shapes and functions. Observing the morphology, micro-structure and composition of these trichomes, researchers were able to state that they belonged to ferns.

Today green lacewing larvae harvest plant materials or even detritus and arthropod remains and carry them on their backs, nestled among small tubercles with hairs. On the contrary, Hallucinochrysa diogenesi possessed a bizarre, unique morphology; it showed extremely elongated tubercles, with hairs that had trumpet-shaped endings acting as anchoring points. All this structure, completely unknown until now, formed a dorsal basket that retained the trash and prevented it from sliding when the insect moved.

The researchers who participated in the study are: Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente and Xavier Delclòs, from the Department of Stratigraphy, Paleontology and Marine Geosciences at the University of Barcelona (Spain); Enrique Peñalver, from the Geominer Museum of the Spanish Geological and Miner Institute; Mariela Speranza, Carmen Ascaso and Jacek Wierzchos, from the National Museum of Natural Sciences, of the Spanish National Research Council, and Michael S. Engel, from the Division of Entomology of the University of Kansas (USA).

The most ancient insect camouflage

In the authors' opinion "Hallucinochrysa diogenesi proved that camouflage strategy and its necessary morphological adaptations early appeared in insects; they already existed in the era of the dinosaurs. In the case of green lacewings, it can be stated that this complex behaviour has not changed for at least 110 million years. This fact constitutes a relevant piece of information for evolution studies about animal behaviour and the adaptation strategies of organisms throughout Earth's history."

The study also shows, providing then an outstanding data, a close ancient plant-insect interaction -- possibly an example of mutualism -- ; the predatory larvae saved ferns from plagues, whereas ferns provides larvae with a habitat and protecting remains; in other words, both organisms profited from each other. In a Cretaceous scenery where resin forests in the ancient Iberian Peninsula were razed by wildfires, this larva collected remains from a fern that grew abundantly after wildfires.

El Soplao outcrop, where the discovery was made, is one of the most important current references to unravel evolution mysteries of Earth invertebrates and better know how the forest ecosystems were 110 million years ago. The study, which is part of the researches developed by AMBARES group (Ámbares de España), has been possible thanks to the collaboration of El Soplao cave, SIEC, and the Government of Cantabria; the study was funded with regional, Spanish and North American funds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universidad de Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuentea,, Xavier Delclòs, Enrique Peñalver, Mariela Speranza, Jacek Wierzchos, Carmen Ascaso, Michael S. Engel. Early evolution and ecology of camouflage in insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1213775110

Cite This Page:

Universidad de Barcelona. "Most ancient evidence of insect camouflage: 110 million years ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211082930.htm>.
Universidad de Barcelona. (2012, December 11). Most ancient evidence of insect camouflage: 110 million years ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211082930.htm
Universidad de Barcelona. "Most ancient evidence of insect camouflage: 110 million years ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211082930.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
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