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Fossils are more and more used in phylogenetic evolutionary studies either for clade calibration, or as terminals in a dataset including morphological characters. The strength of these methodological advances relies however on the quality and completeness of the fossil record. For crickets (Insecta, Orthoptera, Gryllidea), few ancient (pre-Cenozoic) well-preserved fossils are known, except for isolated wings often classified in purely fossil groups and a few fossils found in Cretaceous amber. Here, we present two remarkable fossils from mid-Cretaceous amber of France, that were imaged using X-ray synchrotron microtomography and exhibit an exquisite preservation allowing description with a precision similar to that of extant taxa. Palaeonemobius occidentalis Laurent and Desutter-Grandcolas, gen. nov., sp. nov. and Picogryllus carentonensis Josse and Desutter-Grandcolas, gen. nov., sp. nov. are the oldest representatives of the Nemobiinae and Podoscirtinae subfamilies of the Trigonidiidae and Oecanthidae families respectively. P. carentonensis Josse and Desutter-Grandcolas, gen. nov., sp. nov. is also the smallest adult male with a full stridulatory apparatus ever documented in crickets (body length 3.3 mm), and the first taxon of the cricket clade for which male genitalia can be partly described. We discuss the significance of Cretaceous fossils of crickets for future evolutionary studies of this clade.
The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is one of the most important Cenozoic climatic events shaping modern biodiversity, yet reconstructions of its palaeobiomes remain controversial. Here we describe Gesomyrmex gallicus sp. nov., a new, extinct species of the ant genus Gesomyrmex Mayr, 1868, based on minor and major workers preserved in the early Eocene amber of Oise, France. Although there are only seven known extant species in the genus, all confined to warm and humid forests of SE Asia, the fossil record of Gesomyrmex indicates that the genus once radiated across Eurasia. The new species therefore provides direct evidence that this radiation likely co-occurred with the PETM. This observation constrains palaeoclimatic reconstructions of the Early Eocene by requiring the presence of an extensive, homogeneous and interconnected rainforest-like biome across palaeo-Eurasia, a scenario otherwise corroborated by pollen assemblages. The phases of regression of warm and humid forests and the widening of dry biomes probably occurred later during the Eocene, in between hyperthermals, and were probably less extensive than some computer models predicted.
A new species of drywood termite (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) is described from a nearly complete alate specimen preserved in early Miocene Ethiopian amber. Glyptotermes abyssinicus new species is distinguished by its U-shaped head with 12-segmented antennae, the ocelli separated from the eye margin, the right mandible with an obtuse angle between the apical and first marginal teeth, the left mandible with an obtuse angle between the apical and first + second marginal teeth, and the wing venation. This is the first termite reported from Ethiopian amber, and the fourth Miocene species of the extant genus Glyptotermes Froggatt, 1897, together with species previously described from diatomites of China and amber from the Dominican Republic. As the oldest report of the genus known from Africa, G. abyssinicus n. sp. constitutes an interesting new record for the biogeographical history of the kalotermitid lineage.
A significant portion of Mesozoic amber is fully opaque. Biological inclusions in such amber are invisible even after polishing, leading to potential bias in paleoecological and phylogenetic studies. Until now, studies using conventional X-ray microtomography focused on translucent or semi-opaque amber. In these cases, organisms of interest were visualized prior to X-ray analyses. It was recently demonstrated that propagation phase contrast X-ray synchrotron imaging techniques are powerful tools to access invisible inclusions in fully opaque amber. Here we describe an optimized synchrotron microradiographic protocol that allowed us to investigate efficiently and rapidly large amounts of opaque amber pieces from Charentes (southwestern France). Amber pieces were imaged with microradiography after immersion in water, which optimizes the visibility of inclusions. Determination is not accurate enough to allow precise phylogenetic studies, but provides preliminary data on biodiversity and ecotypes distribution; phase contrast microtomography remains necessary for precise determination. Because the organisms are generally much smaller than the amber pieces, we optimized local microtomography by using a continuous acquisition mode (sample moving during projection integration). As tomographic investigation of all inclusions is not practical, we suggest the use of a synchrotron for a microradiographic survey of opaque amber, coupled with microtomographic investigations of the most valuable organisms.
Proprionoglarisguyoti gen. nov., sp. nov., Parapsyllipsocus vergereaui gen. nov., sp. nov., and Prospeleketoralbianensis gen. nov., sp. nov. are described from the Early Cretaceous amber of Archingeay (SW France). Libanoglarismouawadi gen. nov., sp. nov. is described from the Early Cretaceous amber of Lebanon. They are all placed into the suborder Trogiomorpha, incertae familiae. The discovery of these new taxa together with a first phylogenetic analysis of the trogiomorphan families demonstrate the necessity of a cladistic redefinition of the currently admitted major subdivisions of this suborder.
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