Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EARLY EARTH
100-mllion-year-old amber preserves oldest animal societies
by Staff Writers
New York NY (SPX) Feb 15, 2016


This photo shows two different ant species fighting, caught in 100-million-year old Burmese amber. Image courtesy AMNH/D. Grimaldi and P. Barden. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Fighting ants, giant solider termites, and foraging worker ants recently discovered in 100-million-year-old amber provide direct evidence for advanced social behavior in ancient ants and termites--two groups that are immensely successful because of their ability to organize in hierarchies. The new work, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Kansas, and published in two papers in the journal Current Biology, proves that advanced sociality in ants and termites was present tens of millions of years earlier than indicated by the previous fossil record.

"Ecologically, advanced sociality is one of the most important adaptive features for animals," said co-author Dave Grimaldi, a curator in the Museum's Division of Invertebrate Zoology. "All ants and termites are social, and they are ubiquitous across terrestrial landscapes, with thousands of described species and probably even more that we haven't yet found."

Advanced sociality, or eusociality, a hallmark of which is reproductive specialization into worker and queen castes, is essentially a phenomenon of the group of invertebrates known as arthropods. Queens and reproductive males take the roles as the sole reproducers while the soldiers and workers defend and care for the colony. Eusociality occurs in a range of arthropods, from some shrimp, beetles, and aphids, to various wasps, though the phenomenon is nowhere more pronounced than in honey bees, ants, and termites. (Among vertebrates, eusociality is found in just two species of African mole rats.)

Eusociality is thought to have appeared first in termites in the Late Jurassic, about 150-160 million years ago. However, before the new work, the earliest termites ever found that could definitively be tied to a caste system were from the Miocene, a mere 20 to 17 million years ago. A similar story held true for ants, whose evolutionary history with eusociality was also thought to be long, but only weakly supported by the fossil record.

"In the Cretaceous amber we examine, the ants and termites represent the earliest branches of each evolutionary tree, and the species are wildly different from what their modern relatives look like today," said co-author Phillip Barden, a recent graduate of the comparative biology doctoral program at the Museum's Richard Gilder Graduate School and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University. "We wanted to know how social these creatures were, if they were social at all."

A number of spectacular pieces of amber recently recovered from Myanmar gave Barden, Grimaldi, and their colleagues a clear answer: Eusociality was going strong in both groups during the Cretaceous.

In termites, the researchers made this determination based on the diverse anatomy of the animals, indicating the presence of castes. They found six different termite species preserved in the amber, two of which are new to science: Krishnatermes yoddha, comprising workers, reproductives, and soldiers; and Gigantotermes rex, based on one of the largest soldier termites ever found--about an inch in length, half of it being its head, with scissor-like jaws.

The amber ant fossils froze a number of eusocial behaviors in time. Those include: the presence of different castes, including queen ants and workers; groups of worker ants in single pieces of amber, probably nestmates foraging together; and two workers of different ant species engaging in combat.

"We know that wingless solitary relatives of ants don't fight or defend territories against other species," Barden said. "But modern ants war all of the time. The behavior of these fossil ants, frozen for 100 million years, resolves any ambiguity regarding sociality and diversity in the earliest ants."

Other authors on this work include Michael S. Engel, a professor at the University of Kansas and a research associate at the Museum; and Mark Riccio, from Cornell University.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
American Museum of Natural History
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
EARLY EARTH
Fossils turn out to be a rich source of information
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Feb 11, 2016
For more than 70 years, fossilized arthropods from Quercy, France, were almost completely neglected because they appeared to be poorly preserved. With the help of the Synchrotron Radiation Facility ANKA at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers with substantial participation from the University of Bonn has now been able to X-ray th ... read more


EARLY EARTH
Arianespace to launch two ViaSat high capacity satellites

SpaceX Conducts Hover Tests

Space Launch System's first flight will launch small Sci-Tech cubesats

Initial launcher assembly clears Ariane 5 for its payload integration process

EARLY EARTH
Becoming a Martian

Site of Martian lakes linked to ancient habitable environment

Opportunity climbing steeper slopes to reach science targets

Opportunity Reaches 12 Years on Mars!

EARLY EARTH
Edgar Mitchell, astronaut who walked on Moon, dead at 85

The forgotten moon landing that paved the way for today's space adventures

ASU satellite selected for NASA Space Launch System's first flight

Lunar Flashlight selected to fly as secondary payload on Exploration Mission-1

EARLY EARTH
New Horizons Could Help Us Locate Possible Planets Beyond Neptune

Pluto's Mysterious, Floating Hills

Pluto's widespread water ice

Pluto's blue atmosphere in the infrared

EARLY EARTH
Earth-like planets have Earth-like interiors

The frigid Flying Saucer

Astronomers discover largest solar system

Lonely Planet Finds a Mum a Trillion Km Away

EARLY EARTH
Jerry Cook Named Deputy Director of NASA's Space Launch System Program

NASA Team Demonstrates Loading of Swedish 'Green' Propellant

US Senator McCain to introduce bill to end use of Russian rocket engines

The Path to the Pad

EARLY EARTH
China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket

Last Launch for Long March 2F/G

China aims for the Moon with new rockets

China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon

EARLY EARTH
Dawn now circling Ceres in its final orbit

Inside Rosetta's comet

Small Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth March 5

Luxembourg's ultimate offshore investment: Space mining




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement