The occurrence of arthropods in amber exclusively from the Cretaceous and Cenozoic is widely regarded to be a result of the production and preservation of large amounts of tree resin beginning ca. 130 million years (Ma) ago. Abundant 230 million-year-old amber from the Late Triassic (Carnian) of northeastern Italy has previously yielded myriad microorganisms, but we report here that it also preserves arthropods some 100 Ma older than the earliest prior records in amber. The Triassic specimens are a nematoceran fly (Diptera) and two disparate species of mites, Triasacarus fedelei gen. et sp. nov., and Ampezzoa triassica gen. et sp. nov. These mites are the oldest definitive fossils of a group, the Eriophyoidea, which includes the gall mites and comprises at least 3,500 Recent species, 97% of which feed on angiosperms and represents one of the most specialized lineages of phytophagous arthropods. Antiquity of the gall mites in much their extant form was unexpected, particularly with the Triassic species already having many of their present-day features (such as only two pairs of legs); further, it establishes conifer feeding as an ancestral trait. Feeding by the fossil mites may have contributed to the formation of the amber droplets, but we find that the abundance of amber during the Carnian (ca. 230 Ma) is globally anomalous for the pre-Cretaceous and may, alternatively, be related to paleoclimate. Further recovery of arthropods in Carnian-aged amber is promising and will have profound implications for understanding the evolution of terrestrial members of the most diverse phylum of organisms.

Arthropods in amber from the Triassic Period

RAGAZZI, EUGENIO;ROGHI, GUIDO;
2012

Abstract

The occurrence of arthropods in amber exclusively from the Cretaceous and Cenozoic is widely regarded to be a result of the production and preservation of large amounts of tree resin beginning ca. 130 million years (Ma) ago. Abundant 230 million-year-old amber from the Late Triassic (Carnian) of northeastern Italy has previously yielded myriad microorganisms, but we report here that it also preserves arthropods some 100 Ma older than the earliest prior records in amber. The Triassic specimens are a nematoceran fly (Diptera) and two disparate species of mites, Triasacarus fedelei gen. et sp. nov., and Ampezzoa triassica gen. et sp. nov. These mites are the oldest definitive fossils of a group, the Eriophyoidea, which includes the gall mites and comprises at least 3,500 Recent species, 97% of which feed on angiosperms and represents one of the most specialized lineages of phytophagous arthropods. Antiquity of the gall mites in much their extant form was unexpected, particularly with the Triassic species already having many of their present-day features (such as only two pairs of legs); further, it establishes conifer feeding as an ancestral trait. Feeding by the fossil mites may have contributed to the formation of the amber droplets, but we find that the abundance of amber during the Carnian (ca. 230 Ma) is globally anomalous for the pre-Cretaceous and may, alternatively, be related to paleoclimate. Further recovery of arthropods in Carnian-aged amber is promising and will have profound implications for understanding the evolution of terrestrial members of the most diverse phylum of organisms.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/2525387
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