Batesian insect-insect mimicry-related explosive radiation of ancient alienopterid cockroaches
Batesian mimicry is a relationship in which a harmful organism (the model) is mimicked by a harmless organism (the mimic), which gains protection because predators mistake it for the model. It is the most widely studied of mimicry complexes and has undoubtedly played an important role in the speciation of various animals especially insects. However, little is known about the early evolution of this important behavior and its evolutionary significance owing to a dearth of paleontological records. Here we report several specialized representatives of the family Alienopteridae from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil, mid-Cretaceous Burmite, and the Eocene of the USA. They exhibit unique morphological adaptations for wasp and ant mimicry and represent one of the oldest evidence of Batesian mimicry in the insect fossil record. Our findings reveal at least 65-million-year coevolution between extinct alienopterids and aculeates. Phylogenetic Bayesian network analysis houses Alienopteridae within Umenocoleidae explosively radiating ~127 Ma. Alienopteridae is the only Mesozoic-type cockroach family which passed K/Pg.
KeywordsFossil insect Mesozoic amber Cretaceous cockroach Mimicry Hymenoptera Blattaria
We thank two anonymous reviewers and are grateful to M. Kazimírová, A. Rasnitsyn, V. Perrichot, J. Chen, J. Zhang, V. Jánsky, L. Roller and Ľ. Vidlička for helpful discussion, M. Murata, D. Kohls, Y. Huang, and F. Marsh for kindly providing specimens. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41572010, 41622201, 41688103), Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDPB05), Slovak Research and Development Agency No. APVV-0436-12, UNESCO-Amba/MVTS supporting grant of Presidium of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (VEGA 0012-14, 2/0042/18), Russian Fund for Basic Research (RFBR 16-04-01498, RFBR N 15-34-20745, RFBR No.18-04-00322), and the Operational Program of Research and Development and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRD ITMS 26230120004). P.V. is also supported by a NMNH award and E.A.J. by a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.
B.W., P.V., and Q.Z. designed the project and wrote the manuscript with input from all authors. G.B., P. Vď. and D.A. contributed to the discussion. All authors collected data and performed the comparative and analytical work.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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