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      Mesozoic sooty mould beetles as living relicts in New Zealand

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          Abstract

          New Zealand is an island continent that completed its split from the Gondwanan continent at 52 Ma, harbouring an iconic biota of tuatara, kiwi and weta. The sooty mould community is a distinctive trophic element of New Zealand forest ecosystems that is driven by plant-feeding sternorrhynchan Hemiptera. These produce honeydew, which supports fungal growth, which in turn supports numerous endemic invertebrates, including endemic New Zealand beetle families. Ancient New Zealand insect fossils are rare but a single fossil of a sooty mould cyclaxyrid was recently described from Cretaceous Burmese amber, a family that was previously known from two extant New Zealand species. Well-preserved fossils like this one are recasting Earth history, and, based on a wealth of additional specimens, we re-evaluate the taxonomy of Cretaceous cyclaxyrids and one Eocene species here transferred to Cyclaxyridae. Cyclaxyridae are highly tied to the sooty mould community and have now been discovered to occur in disparate biogeographic realms in deep time. Our discovery indicates that the family, and perhaps the sooty mould community in general, was widespread in Pangaea from at least the Cretaceous and survived as a relict in New Zealand. Persistence of a sooty mould ecosystem in New Zealand and fungal specialization may not necessarily be an evolutionary ‘dead-end’ for cyclaxyrids and other insects.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Proc Biol Sci
          Proc. Biol. Sci
          RSPB
          royprsb
          Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
          The Royal Society
          0962-8452
          1471-2954
          18 December 2019
          18 December 2019
          : 286
          : 1917
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Invertebrate Zoology Department, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History , 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA
          [2 ] Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences , Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warszawa, Poland
          [3 ] State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, and Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Nanjing 210008, People's Republic of China
          [4 ] Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Zealand Arthropod Collection , Private Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand
          Author notes

          Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4757372.

          Article
          PMC6939926 PMC6939926 6939926 rspb20192176
          10.1098/rspb.2019.2176
          6939926
          31847777
          © 2019 The Author(s)

          Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

          Funding
          Funded by: Chinese Academy of Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100002367;
          Award ID: 2019QZKK0706
          Award ID: XDB18000000
          Award ID: XDB26000000
          Categories
          1001
          70
          Evolution
          Research Article
          Custom metadata
          December 18, 2019

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