A tree in an historic forest sits coated in moss, lichens and craggy bark — when all of the sudden, a piece of that bark begins to scuttle round.
But it surely’s not the bark that is scurrying; it is a weird little creature referred to as Stegastochlidus saraemcheana, a newfound genus and species of cylindrical bark beetle. Scientists recovered the creature, which appears like a strolling scrub brush, from 100-million-year-old amber collected within the Hukawng Valley of northern Myanmar. That dates the beetle again to the Cretaceous, the interval between 145.5 million and 65.5 million years in the past.
“The beetle should have spent its life amongst moss, lichens and fungi, both connected to tree trunks or on the forest flooring,” examine co-author George Poinar Jr., a paleobiologist and entomologist at Oregon State College, said in a statement. “He’s hiding below a spectacular camouflage of his personal making, permitting him to mix right into a mossy background.”
This “spectacular camouflage” earned the beetle its genus identify, from the Greek phrases “stegastos,” that means coated, and “chlidos,” that means decoration, the authors wrote. (The textbook “Composition of Scientific Words” (Washington, 1954) defines the same phrase “chlidon” as that means “bracelet, anklet or decoration.”)
This jagged ornamentation makes the beetle look much less like an insect and extra like a chunk of tree bark. Of their paper, revealed Dec. 15 within the journal Biosis: Biological Systems, the authors helpfully level out which finish of the peculiar bug is its head and which is its physique.
From a high view, the top juts off from the tubular physique as a rounded, tuft-like construction coated in spikes. Two segmented antennae lengthen from the top and finish in a club-like form. From a aspect view, the top sits at one finish of the beetle, with the forelegs and midlegs simply behind it. The hindlegs sit barely farther again on the physique, in entrance of the beetle’s cylindrical stomach.
The entire bug measures simply 0.17 inches (4.2 millimeters) lengthy, but it surely crams greater than 100 spike-like buildings onto its again and head. These spikes probably helped the beetle mix in with moss, lichens and fungi, the authors wrote.
“A detailed affiliation with fungi is indicated by strands of fungal spores, often known as conidia, connected to the beetle’s cuticle, or outer overlaying,” Poinar stated within the assertion. A pair of parasitic mites had been additionally discovered latched onto the beetle by their mouthparts, the authors famous. Whereas snacking on the beetle some 100 million years in the past, these mites additionally turned trapped in amber.
The beetle’s pointed mouthparts trace at a carnivorous weight-reduction plan, so the bug probably preyed on different invertebrates, the authors famous. With such a slim physique, the beetle may simply slip into galleries — vertical buildings in-built wooden by different beetles — and probably gobble up the pupae and larvae housed there.
Initially revealed on Reside Science.