New ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dolichoderinae) from Canadian Late Cretaceous amber


Authors: McKellar RC, Glasier JRN, Engel MS

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 88, issue 3; pages: 583 - 594; Received 28 February 2013; Accepted in revised form 10 May 2013; Online 10 June 2013

Keywords: fossil Hymenoptera, Aculeata, Campanian, Grassy Lake amber, divergence times,

full text (PDF, 2.38 MB)

Export to RIS



A new genus and species are described within the ant subfamily Dolichoderinae (Formicidae). Chronomyrmex medicinehatensis gen. et sp. nov. McKellar, Glasier & Engel provides a solid example of Dolichoderinae within the Campanian Grassy Lake amber of southern Alberta (Late Cretaceous, 78–79 Ma). The new species fills a void in the dolichoderine fossil record left by Eotapinoma canadensis Dlussky, a putative dolichoderine whose taxonomic placement has been questioned, and whose type material has been lost. As such, C. medicinehatensis provides a constraint for divergence times of the subfamily and Leptomyrmecini, one of its recently resurrected tribes. This discovery greatly extends the proposed divergence time for Dolichoderinae, and likely Leptomyrmecini, to more than 78 Ma – contrary to some of the more recent estimates inferred from molecular phylogenies.


Bolton, B. 1994. Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. 232 pp. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Bolton, B. 2003. Synopsis and classification of Formicidae. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 71, 1-370.

Bolton, B. 2012. AntCat: an online catalog of the ants of the world. Available from: (accessed 28 January, 2013).

Brady, S.G., Schultz, T.R., Fisher, B.L. & Ward, P.S. 2006. Evaluating alternative hypotheses for the early evolution and diversification of ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103(48), 18172-18177.View article

Brandao, C.R.F., Baroni Urbani, C.,Wagensberg, G. & Yamamoto, C.I. 1998. New Technomyrmex in Dominican amber (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), with a reappraisal of Dolichoderinae phylogeny. Entomologica Scandinavica 29, 411-428.View article

Carpenter, F.M., Folsom, J.W., Essig, E.O., Kinsey, A.C., Brues, C.T., Boesel, M.W. & Ewing, H. 1937. Insects and arachnids from Canadian amber. University of Toronto Studies, Geological Series 40, 7-62.

Dlussky, G.M. 1975. Superfamily Formicoidea Latreille, 1802. Family Formicidae Latreille, 1802, 114-122. In Rasnitsyn, A.P. (ed.) Hymenoptera Apocrita of the Mesozoic. Transactions of the Paleontological Institute Academy of Sciences, USSR 147. [in Russian]

Dlussky, G.M. 1987. New Formicoidea (Hymenoptera) of the Upper Cretaceous. Paleontologicheskii Zhurnal 1, 131-135. [in Russian, English translation in 1988, Paleontological Journal 21, 146-150]

Dlussky, G.M. 1999. New ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from Canadian amber. Paleontologicheskii Zhurnal 4, 73-76. [in Russian, English translation in 1999, Paleontological Journal 4, 409-412]

Dlussky, G.M. & Rasnitsyn, A.P. 2002. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Formation Green River and some other Middle Eocene deposits of North America. Russian Entomological Journal 4, 411-436.

Dlussky, G.M. & Rasnitsyn, A.P. 2007. Paleontological record and stages of ant evolution. Uspekhi sovremennoi biologii 127, 118-134.

Emery, C. 1913 (“1912”). Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Dolichoderinae. Genera Insectorum 137, 1-50.

Engel, M.S. & Grimaldi, D.A. 2005. Primitive new ants in Cretaceous amber from Myanmar, New Jersey and Canada (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). American Museum Novitates 3485, 1-23.View article

Forel, A. 1878. Études myrmécologiques en 1878 (premiere partie) avec l’anatomie du gésier des fourmis. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 15, 337-392.

Goulet, H.&Huber, J.T. (eds) 1993. Hymenoptera of the World: an Identification Guide to Families. 668 pp. Research Branch Agriculture Canada Publication, Ottawa.

Grimaldi, D. & Agosti, D. 2000. A formicine in New Jersey Cretaceous amber (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and early evolution of the ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97(25), 13678-13683.View article

Grimaldi, D.A., Agosti, D. & Carpenter, J.M. 1997. New and rediscovered primitive ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Cretaceous amber from New Jersey, and their phylogenetics relationships. American Museum Novitates 3208, 1-43.

Grimaldi, D.A. & Engel, M.S. 2005. Evolution of the insects. 772 pp. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Grimaldi, D.A. & Nascimbene, P.C. 2010. Raritan (New Jersey) amber, 167-191. In Penney, D. (ed.) Biodiversity of fossils in amber from the major world deposits. Siri Scientific Press, Manchester.

Grimaldi, D., Shedrinsky, A. & Wampler, T.P. 2000. A remarkable deposit of fossiliferous amber from the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) of New Jersey, 1-76. In Grimaldi, D. (ed.) Studies on Fossils in Amber, with Particular Reference to the Cretaceous of New Jersey. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.

Hölldobler, B. & Wilson, E.O. 1990. The ants. 732 pp. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.View article

Keller, R.A. 2011. A phylogenetic analysis of ant morphology (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with special reference to the poneromorph subfamilies. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 355, 1-90.View article

LaPolla, J.S., Dlussky, G.M. & Perrichot, V. 2013. Ants and the fossil record. Annual Review of Entomology 58, 609-630.View article

Latreille, P.A. 1809. Genera crustaceorum et insectorum secundum ordinem naturalem in familias disposita, iconibus exemplisque plurimus explicata. Tomus 4. 399 pp. A. Koenig, Parisiis et Argentorati [= Paris & Strasbourg].

McKellar, R.C. & Engel, M.S. 2012. Hymenoptera in Canadian Cretaceous amber (Insecta). Cretaceous Research 35, 258-279.View article

McKellar, R.C., Glasier, J. & Engel, M.S. (2013). A new trap-jawed ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Haidomyrmecini) from Canadian Late Cretaceous Amber. The Canadian Entomologist, 1-12.View article

McKellar, R.C. & Wolfe, A.P. 2010. Canadian amber, 149-166. In Penney, D. (ed.) Biodiversity of fossils in amber from the major world deposits. Siri Scientific Press, Manchester.

McKellar, R.C.,Wolfe, A.P., Tappert, R. & Muehlenbachs, K. 2008. Correlation between Grassy Lake and Cedar Lake ambers using infrared spectroscopy, stable isotopes, and palaeoentomology. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 45, 1061-1082.View article

Moreau, C.S., Bell, C.D., Vila, R., Archibald, S.B. & Pierce, N.E. 2006. Phylogeny of the ants: diversification in the age of angiosperms. Science 312, 101-104.View article

Nascimbene, P. & Silverstein, H. 2000. The preparation of fragile Cretaceous ambers for conservation and study of organismal inclusions, 93-102. In Grimaldi, D.A. (ed.) Studies on fossils in amber, with particular reference to the Cretaceous of New Jersey. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.

Perrichot, V., Lacau, S., Néraudeau, D. & Nel, A. 2008. Fossil evidence for the early ant evolution. Naturwissenschaften 95, 85-90.View article

Perrichot, V., Néraudeau, D. & Tafforeau, P. 2010. Charentese amber, 192-207. In Penney, D. (ed.) Biodiversity of Fossils in Amber from the Major World Deposits. Siri Scientific Press, Manchester.

Pike, E.M. 1994. Historical changes in insect community structure as indicated by hexapods of Upper Cretaceous Alberta (Grassy Lake) amber. The Canadian Entomologist 126, 695-702.View article

Pike, E.M. 1995. Amber taphonomy and the Grassy Lake, Alberta, amber fauna. 264 pp. PhD thesis, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Calgary, Calgary.

Rasnitsyn, A.P. & Kulicka, R. 1990. Hymenopteran insects in Baltic amber with respect to the overall history of the order. Prace Muzeum Ziemi 41, 53-64.

Schmidt, A.R., Perrichot, V., Svojtkad, M., Anderson, K.B., Belete, K.H., Bussert, R., Dörfelth, H., Jancke, S., Mohr, B., Mohrmann, E., Nascimbene, P.C., Nel, A., Nel, P., Ragazzi, E., Roghi, G., Saupe, E.E., Schmidt, K., Schneider, H., Selden, P.A. & Vávra, N. 2010. Cretaceous African life captured in amber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(16), 7329-7334.View article

Shattuck, S.O. 1992. Generic revision of the ant subfamily Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 21(1), 1-181.

Shattuck, S.O. 1995. Generic-level relationships within the ant subfamily Dolichoderinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Systematic Entomology 20, 217-228.View article

Tyrrell, J.B. 1892. Report on northwestern Manitoba with portions of the adjacent districts of Assiniboia and Saskatchewan. Annual Report of the Geological Survey Branch of Canada 5(1), 14-15.

Ward, P.S. 2007. Phylogeny, classification, and species-level taxonomy of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1668, 549-563.

Ward, P.S., Brady, S.G., Fisher, B.L. & Schultz, T.R. 2010. Phylogeny and biogeography of Dolichoderine ants: effects of data partitioning and relict taxa on historical inference. Systematic Biology 59(3), 342-362.View article

Wilson, E.O., Carpenter, F.M. & Brown, W.L. Jr. 1967. The first Mesozoic ants, with the description of a new subfamily. Psyche 74, 1-19.View article

Yoshimura, M. & Fisher, B.L. 2011. A revision of male ants of the Malagasy region (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Key to genera of the subfamily Dolichoderinae. Zootaxa 2794, 1-34.View article