More than dead males: reconstructing the ontogenetic series of terrestrial non-biting midges from the Eocene amber forest

 

Authors: Baranov V, Hoffeins C, Hoffeins H-W, Haug JT

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 94, issue 2; pages: 187 - 199; Received 6 January 2019; Accepted in revised form 15 March 2019; Online 6 May 2019

Keywords: Diptera, Chironomidae, Amber, Eocene, larvae, pupa, adult, Insecta, ontogeny, Eocene,

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Abstract

Chironomidae (non-biting midges) is a very diverse group of Diptera. While most non-biting midges have aquatic larvae, some lineages have evolved terrestrial larvae. Here we report the first record of the larva of a non-biting midge from Baltic amber. The overall morphology of the specimen is indicative of an originally terrestrial habitat of the larva. This is based on the absence of setae on the body, absence of prominent anal papillae, a single anterior parapod and small posterior parapods. The larva can be identified as a representative of the group (genus) Bryophaenocladius. Adults of this group are already known from the same deposit. An exuvium of a pupa, most likely also closely related to this group, is known from contemporary Rovno amber. This allows to reconstruct the post-embryonic ontogeny, at least on a phase level, for a fossil representative of Diptera based on well preserved specimens in amber for the first time. The current study provides crucial insight into the evolution of terrestrialisation of larval forms within Chironomidae.