Chenyang Cai

Chenyang Cai
Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

About

270
Publications
75,949
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2,821
Citations
Citations since 2017
208 Research Items
2485 Citations
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
Introduction
My research includes a principal aim of understanding the evolutionary history of terrestrial arthropods, particularly insects, by integrating exceptional fossils from Konservat-Lagerstätten (Middle-Late Yanliao Biota [~165 Ma], Early Cretacecous Jehol biota [~125 Ma], mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber [~99 Ma], and Eocene Baltic amber [~45 Ma]), morphology, and transcriptomic/genomic data.

Publications

Publications (270)
Article
Significance We report on the unique discovery of Jurassic and Cretaceous carrion beetles (Silphidae) from China and Myanmar, early relatives of one of the most protected of beetle species in North America, and which clearly preserve evidence indicative of complex parental care. This finding represents the earliest evidence of parental care, a beha...
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Agaricomycetes, or mushrooms, are familiar, conspicuous and morphologically diverse Fungi. Most Agaricomycete fruiting bodies are ephemeral, and their fossil record is limited. Here we report diverse gilled mushrooms (Agaricales) and mycophagous rove beetles (Staphylinidae) from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber, the latter belonging to Oxyporinae, mode...
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Cycads, unlike modern wind-pollinated conifers and Ginkgo, are unusual in that they are an ancient group of gymnosperms pollinated by insects [1, 2, 3]. Although it is well documented that cycads were diverse and abundant during the mid-Mesozoic, little is known about their biogeography and pollination before the rise of angiosperms. Direct fossil...
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Despite the crucial importance of flower-visiting insects in modern ecosystems, there is little fossil evidence on the origins of angiosperm pollination. Most reports of pollination in the Mesozoic fossil record have been based on the co-occurrence of the purported pollinators with pollen grains and assumed morphological adaptations for vectoring p...
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Beetles constitute the most biodiverse animal order with over 380 000 described species and possibly several million more yet unnamed. Recent phylogenomic studies have arrived at considerably incongruent topologies and widely varying estimates of divergence dates for major beetle clades. Here, we use a dataset of 68 single-copy nuclear protein-codi...
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The earliest fossil record of Phloeocharinae, Angucharcotes thayerae gen. et sp. nov., is reported from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Angucharcotes shares characters with both Phloeocharis-related and Charhyphus-related lineages (e.g., mesoventrite with a median longitudinal carina, temple relatively long, basal tarsomeres unexpanded, pronotal and...
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The fossil records of Kateretidae from the Mesozoic are significant for understanding the origin and early evolution of the family. The recent discoveries of Cretaceous kateretids have provided valuable information about the palaeodiversity and morphological disparity of the taxa. Here, we establish a new genus and species of kateretid beetles, Sca...
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Mecoptera was in great abundance in the Permian, but little is known from China. A new family, Sinoagetopanorpidae fam. nov., is described and illustrated from the upper Guadalupian Yinping Formation at Yinping Mountain, Chaohu City, Anhui Province, China. Sinoagetopaorpa permiana Lin, Nel and Huang, 2010 was previously attributed to Permochoristid...
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Sphaeriusidae is a small family of tiny aquatic beetles in the suborder Myxophaga. In this study we characterize two new sphaeriusid fossils from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber with the help of confocal laser scanning microscopy. Sphaerius martini Li & Cai sp. nov. displays similarities with both extant Bezesporum and Sphaerius, although it can b...
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The elateriform genus Parelateriformius Yan & Wang from the Middle–Late Jurassic Daohugou beds has been placed previously in the extinct Lasiosynidae or the extant Eulichadidae. Our reinvestigation of the type specimens and additional materials suggests that the character combination of Parelateriformius (e.g., tarsomeres 2–4 distinctly lobed, post...
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A new species of the ‘flat-backed’ millipede family Trichopolydesmidae, Monstrodesmus grimaldii sp. nov., is described from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Detailed morphological characters are provided on the basis of three well-preserved adults (two males and one female), one male juvenile, and seven additional specimens, using confocal laser s...
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The earliest fossil member of Teredidae, Delteredolaemus hei Li & Cai gen. et sp. nov., is reported from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Delteredolaemus is assigned to the extant tribe Teredini, and shares a generally similar morphology with the extant genus Teredolaemus Sharp, 1885, although it can be distinguished from all other members in the trib...
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An enigmatic cucujiform beetle, Alloterocucus atratus Li, Leschen, Liu, and Cai gen. et sp. nov. , is reported from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The character combination of the new fossil is not completely consistent with any of the known cucujoid or erotyloid families. Based on our phylogenetic analyses, Alloterocucus is assigned to Cucujoidea a...
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Arthropods, the most diverse form of macroscopic life in the history of the Earth, originated in the sea. Since the early Cambrian, at least ~518 million years ago, these animals have dominated the oceans of the world. By the Silurian–Devonian, the fossil record attests to arthropods becoming the first animals to colonize land, However, a growing b...
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Permochoristidae is one of the most diverse mecopteran families in the fossil record, but only a few species have been previously described from China. Herein, we describe and illustrate two new permochoristid species, Mesochorista tongchuanensis sp. nov. and Agetopanorpa sinica sp. nov., from the late Middle Triassic of Yanchang Formation in Shaan...
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Nitidulidae is the most diverse family of the recently recognized superfamily Nitiduliodea, but Mesozoic nitidulids that are critical for understanding their early diversification are sparse. Here, we report a new genus and species of Nitidulidae, Protonitidula neli gen. et sp. nov., that was recovered from mid-Cretaceous amber in northern Myanmar....
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In the current era of data explosion, the use of genetic information is increasingly being applied across numerous biological questions. One application has been to develop more robust evolutionary frameworks. Such well-resolved phylogenetic relationships are currently lacking from many of the basal branches of diversity-rich taxa. This is most pro...
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Permochoristidae is a representative of the mecopterans in the Permian and a stem group of Mecoptera. The Permian is a period during which mecopterans were prosperous, however, Permian mecopterans from China are ex�tremely rare, with only one previously reported species. We establish a new genus and species, Chaohuchorista liaoi gen. et sp. nov.,...
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Various dermestids have been reported from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (e.g., Deng et al., 2017; Háva & Damgaard, 2017; Háva, 2020, 2021). Among them, Attagenus burmiticus Cai et al. was the first adult described from this deposit (Cai et al., 2017). This fossil was originally attributed to the extant genus Attagenus in subfamily Attageninae. Howe...
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The late Palaeozoic is the key period for understanding the origin and early evolution of insects, but Palaeozoic insects from China are poorly explored. Up to now, a total of 53 Carboniferous species, 27 Permian species and 1 Carboniferous–Permian species (12 orders or 2 superorders) have been described. Recently, with the development of biostrati...
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Professor Qi-Bin Lin, a pioneer Chinese palaeoentomologist, passed away peacefully at his home in Nanjing on August 9, 2022, at his age of 87.
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Mecoptera are commonly known as scorpionflies, as some mecopterans have bulbous genitals that are upturned, resembling the stinger of scorpions. As one of the most ancient holometabolous orders (Kristensen, 1981; Dunford & Somma, 2008), the stem group of mecopterans can be dated back to the early Permian (Rasnitsyn, 2004). Mecopterans play an impor...
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The fossils once assigned to Raractocetus Kurosawa from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic amber deposits differ from extant Raractocetus in the longer elytra, the more strongly projecting metacoxae, and the hind wing with vein 2A forked. Thus, these fossils should be removed from Raractocetus. Cretoquadratus engeli Chen from Kachin amber appears to be cons...
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The family Corylophidae is a moderately diverse coccinelloid beetle family. The fossil record of corylophid beetles is extremely sparse, with only one species formally described from the Eocene Baltic amber. Here we report a new corylophid genus and species, Xenostanus jiangkuni Li, Szawaryn & Cai gen. et sp. nov. , from mid-Cretaceous amber from n...
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As one of the earliest-diverging lineage of the megadiverse beetle suborder Polyphaga, marsh beetles (Scirtidae) are crucial for reconstructing the ancestor of all polyphagan beetles and the ecomorphological underpinnings of their remarkable evolutionary success. The phylogeny of marsh beetles has nonetheless remained challenging to infer, not leas...
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Kateretid beetles are among the earliest known pollinators of angiosperms that can be traced back to the Cretaceous, but their palaeodiversity remains poorly explored due to the scarcity of fossil evidence. Here we report a new species, Pelretes bicolor sp. nov., from mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber mined in northern Myanmar. The new species is disting...
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The extant tropical tribe Hybocephalini is a morphologically highly derived group of the subfamily Pselaphinae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), which is characterized most notably by the modified squamous setae that cover various parts of the body. Ten genera and 69 extant species have been found in the Afrotropical and Oriental regions, with one speci...
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Brood care enhances offspring fitness and survival by providing protection or feeding through parents (commonly by females). It has evolved independently multiple times in animals, e.g. mammals, birds, dinosaurs and arthropods, especially various lineages of insects, and has significant implications for understanding the emergence of sociality of i...
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Pareburniola dominicana Zilberman, Yin & Cai gen. et. sp. nov. is the very first fossil record of the tribe Corotocini, reported from Miocene Dominican Republic amber. The new species, which is based on a stenogastric individual, is described and illustrated and is included in the subtribe Corotocina due to the combination of a tarsal formula 4-4-4...
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Taxonomy plays an important role in understanding the origin, evolution, and ecological functionality of biodiversity. There are large number of unknown species yet to be described by taxonomists, which together with their ecosystem services cannot be effectively protected prior to description. Despite this, taxonomy has been increasingly underrat...
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A new fossil genus and species of the family Melandryidae, Homalenchodes jarzembowskii Li, Hsiao, Yoshitomi & Cai gen. et sp. nov., is described and illustrated from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Homalenchodes is likely closely related to the serropalpin genus Enchodes LeConte, based on their simple maxillary palps, complete prosternal process,...
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Ptiliidae is a group of distinctly miniaturized staphylinoid beetles with a scarce fossil record. Here, we report a new ptiliid genus and species, Crenossidium slipinskii Li, Newton and Cai gen. et sp. nov ., from mid-Cretaceous amber from northern Myanmar. Crenossidium can be attributed to the subfamily Nossidiinae based on the hind wing morpholog...
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The scarabaeoid beetle Mesoceratocanthus from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation was originally placed in the extant tribe Ivieolini (Hybosoridae). Our re-examination of the holotype and a new specimen demonstrates that Mesoceratocanthus does not possess the diagnostic characters of Ivieolini or Hybosoridae. Instead, it should be assigned to the...
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Fossil fishes (Mesoclupea-Paraclupea assemblage) are well known in the Late Mesozoic volcano-sedimentary strata in the coast of South China, but the precise age remains uncertain. In this study, we provide LA-ICP-MS U-Pb zircon ages (ca. 120 Ma) for the volcaniclastic layers overlying the fossil-layer in the Chawan Formation at Linhai City, Zhejian...
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Limnichidae are currently a moderately diverse beetle family with a sparse fossil record. Here we describe a new limnichid genus and species, Anomocephalobus liuhaoi Li, Jäch & Cai gen. et sp. nov., from the mid-Cretaceous amber from northern Myanmar. Anomocephalobus gen. nov. is tentatively assigned to the extant subfamily Cephalobyrrhinae, based...
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A new fossil stag beetle (Lucanidae), Litholamprima qizhihaoi sp. nov., is described and figured from two well-preserved specimens from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation in western Liaoning, China (125 Ma). Aditionally, new material of female specimens of the genus Litholamprima Nikolajev & Ren, 2015 provide further evidence for the taxonomic p...
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With some 3,700 described species, Dryopoidea are a moderately diverse superfamily of beetles whose position within basal Polyphaga has been historically difficult to elucidate. Members of most extant dryopoid families are set apart from the majority of other polyphagans by their association with aquatic habitats, but little is known about the orig...
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A new fossil genus and species of the family Endomychidae, Rhomeocalpsua torosa Li, Tomaszewska & Cai, gen. et sp. nov., is described and illustrated from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new genus is characterised by the relatively elongate body, antennae composed of nine antennomeres with unique club morphology, unmodified pronotum, mesocoxa...
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Early Jurassic insects have been described from the Badaowan and the Sangonghe formations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, NW China. Among them, the insect fossils from the Sangonghe Formation remain poorly explored. Here we report for the first time a diverse assemblage of fossil insects from the Sangonghe Formation near the Daheyan Townsh...
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Artematopodid fossils from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber are reported for the first time, represented by three species in two genera. Bipogonia Li, Kundrata & Cai gen. nov. with two species, B. trivialis Li, Kundrata & Cai sp. nov. and B. fortis Li, Kundrata & Cai sp. nov., is mainly characterized by the distinctly serrate antennae, mandibles wi...
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A new fossil species of Monotomidae, Cretakarenni shaoi Li & Cai, sp. nov., is reported from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new species is attributed to the extinct genus Cretakarenni Peris & Delclòs, 2015 primarily based on the paired setose projections on head, apparently 1-segmented antennal club, and transverse procoxal cavities with exp...
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Two new species of the prostomid genus Vetuprostomis Engel & Grimaldi (Coleoptera: Tenebrionoidea: Prostomidae), V. angularis Li & Cai sp. nov. and V. gaoi Li & Cai sp. nov., are described from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Vetuprostomis is suggested to be more closely related to extant Dryocora Pascoe distributed in Australia and New Zealand,...
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A new fossil genus and species of Cantharidae, Nothotytthonyx serratus Li, Biffi, Kundrata & Cai gen. et sp. nov., is reported from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new species is tentatively attributed to the extant subfamily Malthininae based on a combination of characters, including the symmetrical apical maxillary palpomeres, shortened elytra,...
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The Cretaceous witnessed a radiation of rove beetles (Staphylinidae), the most species-rich beetle family. Although most staphylinid subfamilies have been documented from Cretaceous strata over the world, there has been no fossil record of the subfamily Pseudopsinae until a recently reported fossil from the 99-Ma-old Myanmar amber. Here we describe...
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Soil has become a major hotspot of biodiversity studies, yet the pattern and timing of the evolution of soil organisms are poorly known because of the scarcity of palaeontological data. To overcome this limitation, we conducted a genome-based macroevolutionary study of an ancient, diversified, and widespread lineage of soil fauna, the elongate-bodi...
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A new stag beetle fossil is described from the Yixian Formation in northeastern China. A new genus is established based on this well-preserved specimen. Prolucanus beipiaoensis gen. et sp. nov. is firmly placed in the extant lucanid subfamily Lucaninae based on its broad prosternal process and geniculate antennae. Our discovery represents the first...
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The rapid Cretaceous diversification of flowering plants remains Darwin’s ‘abominable mystery’ despite numerous fossil flowers discovered in recent years. Wildfires were frequent in the Cretaceous and many such early flower fossils are represented by charcoalified fragments, lacking complete delicate structures and surface textures, making their si...
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Mesozoic fossils provide invaluable information about the origin and evolutionary history of scorpions. However, well-preserved scorpions in amber are comparatively rare, greatly limiting our understanding of early scorpion morphological diversity and disparity. Here we describe a new species of the extinct family Palaeoburmesebuthidae, Betaburmese...
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A new species, Vetubrachypsectra huchengi Li, Kundrata & Cai sp. nov., is described from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber on the basis of a single adult female. The species is assigned to genus Vetubrachypsectra Qu & Cai based on its serrate antennae, long maxillary palps, presence of tibial spurs, and elytra without clear striae. Vetubrachypsectra huc...
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Jacobsoniidae is a species-poor family of minute polyphagan beetles distributed in tropical and subtropical regions. Both extant representatives of the family as well as fossils are rare. Here we describe a new fossil species, Derolathrus capdoliensis n. sp., from latest Albian-earliest Cenomanian Charentese amber from the Cadeuil deposit, Charente...
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Limited photon flux from the specimen using laser scanning microscopy during very short pixel dwell time often leads to insufficient signal-to-noise ratios (SNR). Increasing the SNR is invariably accompanied with a high power density, which may cause thermal damage to valuable specimens, for instance, the amber fossil record which provides an unpar...
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Apocephalus borealis is a parasitoid of hymenopterans native to North America that also attacks introduced honey bees (Apis mellifera). Parasitism by this species has been associated with infested bees absconding the hive and dying outside. The flies can also harbour viral infections and nosematosis. Recently, nucleotide sequences identical to A. b...
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Nosodendridae is a small polyphagan beetle family with a sparse fossil record. Herein, the fossil Nosodendridae from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (ca. 99 Ma) are systematically reviewed. Nosodendron cretaceum Deng et al. is transferred into Archaenosodendron Li & Cai gen. nov., as A. cretaceum (Deng et al.) comb. nov., primarily based on the morpho...
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A new fossil species of the superfamily Tenebrionoidea, Coslonatus rasnitsyni gen. et sp. nov., is described and illustrated from the mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The new genus is tentatively placed in the extant subfamily Colydiinae (Zopheridae) based primarily on the 4-segmented tarsi, clubbed antennae, and all freely connected abdominal ventrit...
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A new fossil species of the extant archostematan genus Omma Newman, O. forte sp. nov., is reported from mid-Cretaceous amber from northern Myanmar. The extinct ommatid genus, Cionocups Kirejtshuk from the same deposit, is considered as a junior synonym of Omma, and C. manukyani is transferred to Omma, as O. manukyani comb. nov. A key to species of...
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The cryptic slime mold beetles, Sphindidae, are a moderately diverse cucujoid beetle family, whose members are obligately tied to slime molds throughout their life. The fossil record of sphindid beetles is sparse; stem-sphindids and crown-group members of uncertain systematic placement have been reported from Cretaceous ambers. Here we review the M...
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We here report a new elateroid, Anoeuma lawrencei Li, Kundrata and Cai gen. et sp. nov., from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Though superficially similar to some soft-bodied archostematans, Anoeuma could be firmly placed in the polyphagan superfamily Elateroidea based on the hind wing venation. Detailed morphological comparisons between extant elate...
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The morphology of Clessidromma palmeri Jarzembowski et al. from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber is revised based on a reexamination of the type specimen. Contrary to previous studies, our observation confirms that Clessidromma has open procoxal cavities. The characters such as platform on the ventral side of head, modified metacoxae, and ridges on hea...
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Insects comprise over half of all described animal species. Together with the Protura (coneheads), Collembola (springtails) and Diplura (two-pronged bristletails), insects form the Hexapoda, a terrestrial arthropod lineage characterised by possessing six legs. Exponential growth of genome-scale data for the hexapods has substantially altered our un...
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Mesozoic fossils of Psephenidae are sparse. Here we characterise, describe and figure a new genus and species of Psephenidae from the Albian/Cenomanian Burmese amber, Pseudomataeopsephus burmensis gen. et sp. nov, based on an adult male. Pseudomataeopsephus has an interesting combination of characters, including filiform antennae in male, pronotum...