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Data from: Cretophengodidae, a new Cretaceous beetle family sheds light on the evolution of bioluminescence

Citation

Cai, Chenyang (2020), Data from: Cretophengodidae, a new Cretaceous beetle family sheds light on the evolution of bioluminescence, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c59zw3r6c

Abstract

Bioluminescent beetles of the superfamily Elateroidea (fireflies, fire beetles, glow-worms) are the most speciose group of terrestrial light-producing animals. The evolution of bioluminescence in elateroids is associated with unusual morphological modifications, such as soft-bodiedness and neoteny, but the fragmentary nature of the fossil record discloses little about the origin of these adaptations. We report the discovery of a new bioluminescent elateroid beetle family from the mid-Cretaceous of northern Myanmar (ca. 99 Ma), Cretophengodidae fam. nov. Cretophengodes azari gen. et sp. nov. belongs to the bioluminescent lampyroid clade, and would appear to represent a transitional fossil linking the soft-bodied Phengodidae + Rhagophthalmidae clade and hard-bodied elateroids. The fossil male possesses a light organ on the abdomen which presumably served a defensive function, documenting a Cretaceous radiation of bioluminescent beetles coinciding with the diversification of major insectivore groups such as frogs and stem-group birds. The discovery adds a key branch to the elateroid tree of life and sheds light on the evolution of soft-bodiedness and historical biogeography of elateroid beetles.