Arthropods in contemporary and some fossil resins

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:Zherikhin, V.V., Sukacheva, I.D., Rasnitsyn A.P.
Journal:Paleontological Journal
Keywords:Amber, Eocene, experimental paleontology, insect fossils, insects, resin, Taphonomy

More than 4800 arthropod inclusions were isolated and identified from resin of various contemporary conifer trees in various parts of northern Eurasia. Their composition is compared with that in representative collections of Baltic and Rovno ambers (Upper Eocene) and with that in Dominican amber (Lower Miocene). The original composition of inclusions of Dominican amber is reconstructed for the first time using a procedure intended to reduce the effect of human bias. Taphonomical characteristics of resins and their effects on the composition of inclusions are studied. The actuapaleontological approach reveals a trend towards a decrease in the relative abundance of arboreal springtails and nematoceran dipterans and an increase in that of the true bugs, beetles, lepidopterans, and hymenopterans (especially ants) between the Eocene and the present. Relative abundances of spiders and mites show no clear trend. The available data on other arthropods are still insufficient for elucidating evolutionary trends. Surprisingly, a small contemporary sample from Taimyr (N. Siberia) was inexplicably more similar to the Eocene amber than to other contemporary resins. No other significant differences in composition of inclusions, compared across different conifer genera or geographic areas, have been revealed. A more detailed comparison between contemporary and fossil hymenopteran and beetle inclusions reveals correlations with both age (= evolutionary change) and geography. The absolute dominance of ants, particularly Formicinae and Myrmicinae, and, among solitary hymenopterans, Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, and Pteromalidae, and a corresponding decline in the abundance of Scelionidae and Dolichoderinae in contemporary resins compared to amber reflect evolutionary changes. In contrast, the overwhelming abundance of Formicinae and consistent occurrence of sawflies in contemporary resins of northern Eurasia appear to be explained by geography. The Eocene assemblages of beetle inclusions are characterized by a wider and more variable set of dominant families, in sharp contrast to contemporary resins, which are uniformly dominated by Curculionidae, Chrysomelidae, and Staphylinidae. Additional analyses are needed to explain this difference.

Refereed Designation:Refereed
Mon, 2010-06-14 17:43 -- br
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith