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Nicholson D.B.,University of York | Nicholson D.B.,Natural History Museum in London | Ross A.J.,National Museum of Scotland | Mayhew P.J.,University of York
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

Explaining the taxonomic richness of the insects, comprising over half of all described species, is a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Previously, several evolutionary novelties (key innovations) have been posited to contribute to that richness, including the insect bauplan, wings, wing folding and complete metamorphosis, but evidence over their relative importance and modes of action is sparse and equivocal. Here, a new dataset on the first and last occurrences of fossil hexapod (insects and close relatives) families is used to show that basal families of winged insects (Palaeoptera, e.g. dragonflies) show higher origination and extinction rates in the fossil record than basal wingless groups (Apterygota, e.g. silverfish). Origination and extinction rates were maintained at levels similar to Palaeoptera in the more derived Polyneoptera (e.g. cockroaches) and Paraneoptera (e.g. true bugs), but extinction rates subsequently reduced in the very rich group of insects with complete metamorphosis (Holometabola, e.g. beetles). Holometabola show evidence of a recent slow-down in their high net diversification rate, whereas other winged taxa continue to diversify at constant but low rates. These data suggest that wings and complete metamorphosis have had the most effect on family-level insect macroevolution, and point to specific mechanisms by which they have influenced insect diversity through time. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Upton P.,Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences | Craw D.,University of Otago | Walcott R.,National Museum of Scotland
Geosciences (Switzerland) | Year: 2014

The Miocene in Southern New Zealand was dominated by strike-slip tectonics. Stratigraphic evidence from this time attests to two zones of subsidence in the south: (a) a middle Cenozoic pull-apart basin and (b) a regionally extensive subsiding lake complex, which developed east and distal to the developing plate boundary structure. The lake overlay a block of crust with a significantly weak mid-crustal section and we pose the question: can rheological transitions at an angle to a plate boundary produce distal subsidence and/or uplift? We use stratigraphic, structural and geophysical observations from Southern New Zealand to constrain three-dimensional numerical models for a variety of boundary conditions and rheological scenarios. We show that coincident subsidence and uplift can result from purely strike-slip boundary conditions interacting with a transition from strong to weak to strong mid-crustal rheology. The resulting pattern of vertical displacement is a function of the symmetry or asymmetry of the boundary conditions and the extent and orientation of the rheological transitions. For the Southern New Zealand case study, subsidence rates of ~0.1 mm/yr are predicted for a relative plate motion of 25 mm/yr, leading to ~500 m of subsidence over a 5 Ma time period, comparable to the thickness of preserved lacustrine sediments. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

Ross A.,National Museum of Scotland
Current Biology | Year: 2014

In the study of fossil insects, Chinese amber from Fushun has been largely overlooked. A new study now reveals a highly diverse biota and provides a wealth of new information on the past Asian insect fauna. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Source

Ross A.J.,National Museum of Scotland | Self A.,Natural History Museum in London
Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh | Year: 2014

The Insect Limestone has long been known as a source of exquisitely preserved insects and other arthropods. It occurs on the north side of the Isle of Wight and is latest Eocene in age. A summary of the history of the study of the Insect Limestone is given, along with detailed stratigraphical and sedimentological information. This paper is the first in a thematic set of papers. © 2014 The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Source

Szadziewski R.,University of Gdansk | Ross A.,National Museum of Scotland | Gilka W.,University of Gdansk
Cretaceous Research | Year: 2015

A new biting midge Archiculicoides andersoni sp. nov. from Upper Cretaceous Burmese amber is described and illustrated. An unknown male of Leptoconops myanmaricus Szadziewski, 2004 is described and an undetermined female of the genus Archiaustroconops and Austroconops in the collection of National Museums Scotland is reported. A key for the determination of 10 named species in 6 genera of biting midges reported from Burmese amber is also provided. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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