A tiny beetle that was first trapped in amber 99 million years ago has been discovered by scientists. The diminutive specimen is only half the length of a grain of rice and was unearthed in Myanmar. Named Propiestus archaicus, the animal is a distant relative of the Rove beetle that exists today in South America and the southern part of Arizona. Scientists claim that the huge geographical difference between the two locations provides clues to explain how the Earth's continents moved over time following the disintegration of the supercontinent Pangaea. Named Propiestus archaicus, the tiny beetle (pictured) measures only 0.1 inches long and it relied on its antennae, flattened body and short legs to navigate through foliage and underneath rotten trees'This is a very rare find,' said Shuhei Yamamoto, a Field Museum researcher and lead author of the paper, published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
A fungus worthy of its own horror film is on the loose, taking over the bodies of goldenrod soldier beetles and turning them into contagious zombies that can infect their beetle brethren, a new study finds. The fungus has a creepy but foolproof modus operandi: About two weeks after it infects the goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus), it orders the beetle to climb up a plant and clamp its mandibles around a flower. Then, the beetle dies, swinging like a scarecrow from the flower and giving the fungus ample opportunity to infect nearby beetles, said study lead investigator Donald Steinkraus, a professor of entomology at the University of Arkansas. Steinkraus first spotted these bizarre, zombie-like beetles on a research farm in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He remembers seeing hundreds of yellow-and-black soldier beetles on a patch of blooming wild asters.
An army ant colony does not welcome outsiders. Yet within the nests of most species of army ants, quietly stealing nourishment from their unwitting hosts, live tiny beetles that have evolved to look, smell, and behave just like their hosts. They have managed this evolutionary feat not just once, but at least a dozen times, new research shows. There are other classic examples of parallel evolution, but those species had a recent common ancestor, whereas the rove beetles have been diverging for more than a hundred million years. And just as ant colonies are jackpots for ant look-alike rove beetles, so, too, are termite nests. Based on a morphologically based family tree, other researchers propose that an adaptation of some beetles for living and hunting in sand helped protect the first beetle parasites from the termite attack. Now, some of these rove beetles have come to look and act just like the termites.
Imagine spending almost two hours wallowing in the stomach juices of a toad. Bombardier beetles do just that, but they have found a way to escape alive. A swallowed bombardier beetle squirts so much hot, toxic fluid into the toad's stomach that the animal is sick, ejecting the beetle to freedom. S...