The Science of Nature

, 103:78 | Cite as

Origin of origami cockroach reveals long-lasting (11 Ma) phenotype instability following viviparity

  • Peter V. Vršanský
  • Lucia Šmídová
  • Daniel Valaška
  • Peter Barna
  • Ľubomír Vidlička
  • Peter Takáč
  • Lubomir Pavlik
  • Tatiana Kúdelová
  • Talia S. Karim
  • David Zelagin
  • Dena Smith
Original Paper


Viviparity evolved in bacteria, plants, ˃141 vertebrate lineages (ichthyosaurs, lizards, fishes, mammals, and others), and in 11 of 44 insect orders. Live-birth cockroaches preserved with brood sac (3D recovered two times optically) included Diploptera vladimir, Diploptera savba, Diploptera gemini spp.n., D. sp.1–2, and Stegoblatta irmgardgroehni from Green River, Colorado; Quilchena, Republic; McAbee, Canada; and Baltic amber, Russia (49, 54, and 45 Ma). They evolved from rare and newly evolved Blaberidae; they radiated circumtropically, later expanded into SE Asia, and have now spread to Hawaii and the SE USA. Association of autapomorphic characters that allow for passive and active protections from parasitic insects (unique wing origami pleating identical with its egg case-attacking wasp) suggest a response to high parasitic loads. Synchronized with global reorganization of the biota, morphotype destabilization in roaches lasted approximately 11–22 Ma, including both the adaptation of novel characters and the reduction of others. Thus, while viviparity can be disadvantageous, in association with new Bauplans and/or behaviors, it can contribute to the evolution of taxa with viviparous representatives that are slightly selectively preferred.


Fossil insect Cenozoic Eocene Blattaria (=Blattodea) 



We thank Conrad C. Labandeira and Finnegan Marsh (NMNH Washington, DC) for allowing the study and support, Nataša Halásiová (ESISAS Banská Bystrica) for SEM assistance, Roman Hergovits, Vít Kubáň, and Ján Kodada for collecting the living materials, Lena Lukashevich (PIN Moscow) for anisopodid fly determination, and anonymous reviewers for revisions. Earth Relief: Google Maps, 2010 (license Creative Commons CC0— Supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contracts no. APVV-0436-12, APVV 0692-12; UNESCO-Amba; VEGA 0012-14, 0186/13, 2/0125/09; MVTS; Literary Fund. Support of PB’s work at UCM, fossil curation, and digitization of specimens were supported by National Science Foundation under award numbers EAR 13002622 and EF 13004574. PV designed research and performed NMNH research and wrote paper; PB performed CU research including SEMs and hindwing of living species; LŠ revised viviparity over zoological system; ĽV collected literature and new data of living individuals; MK performed the cladistical analysis; DV provided the 3D reconstructions and visualizations and confocal profiling (; LP provided the confocal and optical profiling; DS revised text, enabled the study, and provided fossil material and its stratigraphy.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

114_2016_1398_MOESM1_ESM.mp4 (35.8 mb)
ESM 1 SI1: Optical 3D model (cockroach Diploptera vladimir; and synsedimented fly Anisopodidae sp.1, indetermined psocopteran and indetermined insect fragment) with overlay of 16,384/ 16,384 pixel calibrated color texture. (MP4 36,639 kb)
114_2016_1398_MOESM2_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 2 SI3 (SI Tab 1) Phylogenetically annotated morphological character matrix for Diplopteridae (Diploptera, Diplopterina and Stegoblatta and Gyna as outgroup). (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter V. Vršanský
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lucia Šmídová
    • 4
  • Daniel Valaška
    • 5
  • Peter Barna
    • 3
  • Ľubomír Vidlička
    • 1
  • Peter Takáč
    • 1
  • Lubomir Pavlik
    • 6
    • 7
  • Tatiana Kúdelová
    • 4
  • Talia S. Karim
    • 8
  • David Zelagin
    • 8
  • Dena Smith
    • 8
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Paleontological InstituteRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Earth Science InstituteSlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  5. 5.BratislavaSlovakia
  6. 6.Faculty of Materials and TechnologySlovak Technical University BratislavaTrnavaSlovakia
  7. 7.Institute of Materials and Machine MechanicsSlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  8. 8.CU Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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