The evolutionary ancestry of arthropods dates back to the Cambrian period. The group is generally regarded as monophyletic, and many analyses support the placement of arthropods with cycloneuralians (or their constituent clades) in a superphylum Ecdysozoa. Overall, however, the basal relationships of animals are not yet well resolved. Likewise, the relationships between various arthropod groups are still actively debated. Today, Arthropods contribute to the human food supply both directly as food, and more importantly, indirectly as pollinators of crops. Some species are known to spread severe disease to humans, livestock, and crops. (Full article...)
Slimonidae (the name deriving from the type genus Slimonia, which is named in honor of Welsh fossil collector and surgeon Robert Slimon) is a family of eurypterids, an extinct group of aquatic arthropods. Slimonids were members of the superfamily Pterygotioidea and the family most closely related to the derived pterygotid eurypterids, which are famous for their cheliceral claws and great size. Many characteristics of the Slimonidae, such as their flattened and expanded telsons (the posteriormost division of their bodies), support a close relationship between the two groups.
Slimonids are defined as pterygotioid eurypterids with swimming legs similar to those of the type genus, Slimonia, and the second to fifth pair of appendages being non-spiniferous. The family contains only two genera, the almost completely known Slimonia and Salteropterus, which is known only from the telson and the metastoma (a large plate part of the abdomen).
Both slimonid genera preserve flattened and expanded telsons that end in elongated telson spikes. The discovery of several articulated specimens of Slimonia with the tail segments preserved in tight curves, suggesting that the tail segments were considerably more flexible than previously thought and would have been capable of considerable side-to-side movement. Unlike the related pterygotids, the slimonids did not possess robust and powerful cheliceral claws and as such, these telson spikes may have been the primary weaponry used by Slimonia, although this theory is considered unlikely by contemporary researchers. The telson spike of Salteropterus was likely not used as a weapon and was highly distinct and different from that of any other eurypterid. (Full article...)
Other explanations for the observed correlation with industrial pollution have been proposed, including strengthening the immune system in a polluted environment, absorbing heat more rapidly when sunlight is reduced by air pollution, and the ability to excrete trace elements into melanic scales and feathers. (Full article...)
The Lampyridae are a family of insects in the beetleorder Coleoptera, with more than 2,000 described species, many of which are light-emitting. They are soft-bodied beetles commonly called fireflies, lightning bugs, or glowworms for their conspicuous production of light, mainly during twilight, to attract mates. Light production in the Lampyridae is thought to have originated as an honestwarning signal that the larvae were distasteful; this was co-opted in evolution as a mating signal in the adults. In a further development, female fireflies of the genus Photuris mimic the flash pattern of Photinus species to trap their males as prey.
Fireflies are found in temperate and tropical climates. Many live in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. While all known fireflies glow as larvae, only some adults produce light, and the location of the light organ varies among species and between sexes of the same species. Fireflies have attracted human attention since classical antiquity; their presence has been taken to signify a wide variety of conditions in different cultures, and is especially appreciated aesthetically in Japan, where parks are set aside for this specific purpose. (Full article...)
Sawflies are the insects of the suborderSymphyta within the order Hymenoptera alongside ants, bees, and wasps. The common name comes from the saw-like appearance of the ovipositor, which the females use to cut into the plants where they lay their eggs. The name is associated especially with the Tenthredinoidea, by far the largest superfamily in the suborder, with about 7,000 known species; in the entire suborder, there are 8,000 described species in more than 800 genera. Symphyta is paraphyletic, consisting of several basal groups within the order Hymenoptera, each one rooted inside the previous group, ending with the Apocrita which are not sawflies.
The primary distinction between sawflies and the Apocrita – the ants, bees, and wasps – is that the adults lack a "wasp waist", and instead have a broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax. Some sawflies are Batesian mimics of wasps and bees, and the ovipositor can be mistaken for a stinger. Sawflies vary in length, most measuring 2.5 to 20 millimetres (3⁄32 to 25⁄32 inch); the largest known sawfly measured 55 mm (2+1⁄4 in). The larvae are caterpillar-like, but can be distinguished by the number of prolegs and the absence of crochets in sawfly larvae. The great majority of sawflies are plant-eating, though the members of the superfamily Orussoidea are parasitic.
Predators include birds, insects and small animals. The larvae of some species have anti-predator adaptations such as regurgitating irritating liquid and clustering together for safety in numbers. Sawflies are hosts to many parasitoids, most of which are Hymenoptera, the rest being Diptera. (Full article...)
It had several unique characteristics that differentiated it from many other arthropods, such as its long parabolic (nearly U-shaped) prosoma (head), its elongated first and second segments and the presence of paired "ridges" in the surface of its third to tenth tergites (dorsal halves of the segments). Furthermore, the opisthosoma (the "trunk") of Borchgrevinkium was triangular, and its telson (the posteriormost division of its body), short and wedge-shaped. It was a small animal, approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) long.
The only known specimen of the genus was collected in 1956 and described in 1959 by the Russian paleontologistNestor Ivanovich Novojilov. He determined that it was a eurypterid and classified it in the familyMycteroptidae. However, its classification changed repeatedly over the years, being transferred from Eurypterida to Xiphosura and back to Eurypterida some time later. Borchgrevinkium is tentatively considered as a prosomapod, with more fossil material needed to ensure its current classification. (Full article...)
Sphecius grandis, also called the western cicada killer, is a species of cicada killer wasp (Sphecius). The western species shares the same nesting biology as its fellow species, the eastern cicada killer (S. speciosus). S. grandis, like all other species of the genusSphecius, mainly provides cicadas for its offspring. It forms nest aggregations and mates and broods once in a year, in July and early August. The wasp is on average 3 cm (1 in) to 5 cm (2 in) in length and is amber-yellow with yellow rings on its abdomen.
Wasps in the genus Sphecius are not habitually aggressive and use their venom mainly to paralyse cicadas which they take back to their nests to feed their young. The females catch around four or more cicadas for provisioning, place them in brood cells and lay eggs in the cells. S. grandis is endemic to Central America, Mexico and the Western United States, and is found at a higher mean altitude than other species of Sphecius. The western cicada killer males emerge earlier than females, but generally die after only a couple of days.
Sphecius grandis can be distinguished from S. convallis (the Pacific cicada killer wasp) by the coloration pattern of the gastral tergites. Formerly, the two species were distinguished on the basis of the number of tergites with yellow markings (five in S. grandis and three in S. convallis), but a more recent study showed that this character was insufficient to distinguish the two species. However, they can be distinguished by the density of the punctation on the first and second tergites. (Full article...)
The ant is polymorphic and relatively large, with two different castes of workers: major workers (also known as soldiers), and minor workers. These two group of workers measure around 5 to 15 millimetres (0.2 to 0.6 in) in length, while the queen ants are even larger. Mainly nocturnal, banded sugar ants prefer a mesic habitat, and are commonly found in forests and woodlands. They also occur in urban areas, where they are considered a household pest. The ant's diet includes sweet secretions that are retrieved from aphids and other insects that it tends. This species is a competitor of the meat ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus), and food robbery and nest-plugging is known to occur between these two ants. Workers prey on insects, killing them with a spray of formic acid. Banded sugar ants are preyed upon by other ants, echidnas, and birds. The eggs of this species were consumed by Indigenous Australians. (Full article...)
The bush coconut, or bloodwood apple, is an Australian bush tucker food. It is an insect gall with both plant and animal components: an adult female scale insect and her offspring (of genus Cystococcus) live in a gall induced on a bloodwood eucalypt tree (Corymbia). Bush coconuts can vary from golf ball to tennis ball size. They have a hard and lumpy outer layer. The inner layer is a white flesh that contains the female insect and her offspring. There are three known species of Cystococcus responsible for forming the bush coconut: Cystococcus pomiformis, Cystococcus echiniformis and Cystococcus campanidorsalis. C. pomiformis is the most common species. The bush coconut is found in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.
The bush coconut is picked from the host tree and cracked open to allow the flesh and scale insects to be eaten. Both have a high protein content and are used as a food source by humans and other animals. The name ‘bush coconut’ is derived from the white flesh of the inner layer, which is similar in appearance to that of a coconut, and the taste of the flesh has been said to have a coconut flavour. The bush coconut has been depicted in Indigenous Australian dreaming and used as inspiration in their artwork. (Full article...)
Horse-flies or horseflies are true flies in the family Tabanidae in the insectorderDiptera. They are often large and agile in flight, and the females bite animals, including humans, to obtain blood. They prefer to fly in sunlight, avoiding dark and shady areas, and are inactive at night. They are found all over the world except for some islands and the polar regions (Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland). Both horse-flies and botflies (Oestridae) are sometimes referred to as gadflies.
Adult horse-flies feed on nectar and plant exudates; the males have weak mouthparts and only the females bite animals to obtain enough protein from blood to produce eggs. The mouthparts of females are formed into a stout stabbing organ with two pairs of sharp cutting blades, and a spongelike part used to lap up the blood that flows from the wound. The larvae are predaceous and grow in semiaquatic habitats.
The caddisflies, or orderTrichoptera, are a group of insects with aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults. There are approximately 14,500 described species, most of which can be divided into the suborders Integripalpia and Annulipalpia on the basis of the adult mouthparts. Integripalpian larvae construct a portable casing to protect themselves as they move around looking for food, while Annulipalpian larvae make themselves a fixed retreat in which they remain, waiting for food to come to them. The affinities of the small third suborder Spicipalpia are unclear, and molecular analysis suggests it may not be monophyletic. Also called sedge-flies or rail-flies, the adults are small moth-like insects with two pairs of hairy membranous wings. They are closely related to the Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) which have scales on their wings; the two orders together form the superorder Amphiesmenoptera.
The aquatic larvae are found in a wide variety of habitats such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, spring seeps and temporary waters (vernal pools). The larvae of many species use silk to make protective cases, which are often strengthened with gravel, sand, twigs, bitten-off pieces of plants, or other debris. The larvae exhibit various feeding strategies, with different species being predators, leaf shredders, algal grazers, or collectors of particles from the water column and benthos. Most adults have short lives during which they do not feed.
In fly fishing, artificial flies are tied to imitate adults, while larvae and pupae are used as bait. Common and widespread genera such as Helicopsyche and Hydropsyche are important in the sport, where caddisflies are known as "sedges". Caddisflies are useful as bioindicators, as they are sensitive to water pollution and are large enough to be assessed in the field. In art, the French artist Hubert Duprat has created works by providing caddis larvae with small grains of gold and precious stones for them to build into decorative cases. (Full article...)
Drawing of the carapace of C. oculatus by its original descriptor, Stepan S. Kutorga (1838)
It was a member of the hibbertopteridfamily of eurypterids and probably looked much the same as the other members of the family, Hibbertopterus and Vernonopterus, in that it was a large, broad and heavy animal quite different from the famous swimming eurypterids (such as Pterygotus and Eurypterus) which had been common during earlier periods. Like all other stylonurine eurypterids, Campylocephalus completely lacked swimming paddles.
Hibbertopterids such as Campylocephalus were, as many other families within the stylonurine suborder, sweep-feeders. Sweep-feeding food strategies involve specialized appendages with blades that could be used by the animals to rake through the substrate of their living environments in search for small prey items. (Full article...)
Y. geinitzi worker
Yantaromyrmex is an extinctgenus of ants first described in 2013. Members of this genus are in the subfamily Dolichoderinae of the family Formicidae, known from Middle Eocene to Early Oligocene fossils found in Europe. The genus currently contains five described species, Y. constrictus, Y. geinitzi, Y. intermedius, Y. mayrianum and Y. samlandicus. The first specimens were collected in 1868 and studied by Austrian entomologist Gustav Mayr, who originally placed the fossils in other ant genera until the fossils were reviewed and subsequently placed into their own genus. These ants are small, measuring from 4 to 6 mm (0.16 to 0.24 in) in length and can be characterized by their trapezoidal shaped head-capsules and oval compound eyes that are located slightly to the rear of the capsules midpoint, with no known ocelli present. (Full article...)
The deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) is a species of woodboring beetle that sometimes infests the structural timbers of old buildings. The adult beetle is brown and measures on average 7 mm (0.3 in) long. Eggs are laid in dark crevices in old wood inside buildings, trees, and inside tunnels left behind by previous larvae. The larvae bore into the timber, feeding for up to ten years before pupating, and later emerging from the wood as adult beetles. Timber that has been damp and is affected by fungal decay is soft enough for the larvae to chew through. They obtain nourishment by using enzymes present in their gut to digest the cellulose and hemicellulose in the wood.
The larvae of deathwatch beetles weaken the structural timbers of a building by tunneling through them. Treatment with insecticides to kill the larvae is largely ineffective, and killing the adult beetles when they emerge in spring and early summer may be a better option. However, infestation by these beetles is often limited to historic buildings, because modern buildings tend to use softwoods for joists and rafters instead of aged oak timbers, which the beetles prefer.
To attract mates, the adult insects create a tapping or ticking sound that can sometimes be heard in the rafters of old buildings on summer nights; therefore, the deathwatch beetle is associated with quiet, sleepless nights and is named for the vigil (watch) being kept beside the dying or dead. By extension, there exists a superstition that these sounds are an omen of impending death. (Full article...)
Male M. campanulae
Megachile campanulae, known as the bellflower resin bee, is a species of bee in the family Megachilidae. Described in 1903, these solitary bees are native to eastern North America. Studies in 2013 placed them among the first insect species to use synthetic materials for making nests. They are considered mason bees, which is a common descriptor of bees in several families, including Megachilidae. Within the genus Megachile, frequently also referred to as leafcutter bees, M. campanulae is a member of the subgenus Chelostomoides, which do not construct nests from cut leaves, but rather from plant resins and other materials. Females lay eggs in nests constructed with individual cell compartments for each egg. Once hatched, the eggs progress through larval stages and subsequently will overwinter as pupae. The bees are susceptible to parasitism from several other bee species, which act as brood parasites. They are medium-sized bees and the female adults are typically larger than the males. They are important pollinators of numerous native plant species throughout their range. (Full article...)
N. macrops workers
Nothomyrmecia, also known as the dinosaur ant or dawn ant, is a extremely rare genus of ants consisting of a single species, Nothomyrmecia macrops. These ants live in South Australia, nesting in old-growthmallee woodland and Eucalyptus woodland. The full distribution of Nothomyrmecia has never been assessed, and it is unknown how widespread the species truly is; its potential range may be wider if it does favour old-growth mallee woodland. Possible threats to its survival include habitat destruction and climate change. Nothomyrmecia is most active when it is cold because workers encounter fewer competitors and predators such as Camponotus and Iridomyrmex, and it also increases hunting success. Thus, the increase of temperature may prevent them from foraging and very few areas would be suitable for the ant to live in. As a result, the IUCN lists the ant as Critically Endangered.
As a medium-sized ant, Nothomyrmecia measures 9.7–11 mm (0.38–0.43 in). Workers are monomorphic, showing little morphological differentiation among one another. Mature colonies are very small, with only 50 to 100 individuals in each nest. Workers are strictly nocturnal and are solitary foragers, collecting arthropod prey and sweet substances such as honeydew from scale insects and other Hemiptera. They rely on their vision to navigate and there is no evidence to suggest that the species use chemicals to communicate when foraging, but they do use chemical alarm signals. A queen ant will mate with one or more males and, during colony foundation, she will hunt for food until the brood have fully developed. Queens are univoltine (they produce just one generation of ants each year). Two queens may establish a colony together, but only one will remain once the first generation of workers has been reared.
Nothomyrmecia was first described by Australian entomologist John S. Clark in 1934 from two specimens of worker ants. These were reportedly collected in 1931 near the Russell Range, inland from Israelite Bay in Western Australia. After its initial discovery, the ant was not seen again for four decades until a group of entomologists rediscovered it in 1977, 1,300 km (810 mi) away from the original reported site. Dubbed as the 'Holy Grail' of myrmecology, the ant was subject to great scientific interest after its rediscovery, attracting scientists from around the world. In Poochera (the rediscovery site), pictures of the ant are stencilled on the streets, and it is perhaps the only town in the world that thrives off ant-based tourism. Some entomologists have suggested a relationship to the Baltic Eocene fossil ant genus Prionomyrmex based on morphological similarities, but this interpretation is not widely accepted by the entomological community. Owing to its body structure, Nothomyrmecia is regarded to be the most plesiomorphic ant alive and a 'living fossil', stimulating studies on its morphology, behaviour, ecology, and chromosomes. (Full article...)
Image 2The house centipedeScutigera coleoptrata has rigid sclerites on each body segment. Supple chitin holds the sclerites together and connects the segments flexibly. Similar chitin connects the joints in the legs. Sclerotised tubular leg segments house the leg muscles, their nerves and attachments, leaving room for the passage of blood to and from the hemocoel (from Arthropod exoskeleton)
Image 8Some of the various hypotheses of myriapod phylogeny. Morphological studies (trees a and b) support a sister grouping of Diplopoda and Pauropoda, while studies of DNA or amino acid similarities suggest a variety of different relationships, including the relationship of Pauropoda and Symphyla in tree c. (from Myriapoda)
Image 17Mature queen of a termite colony, showing how the unsclerotised cuticle stretches between the dark sclerites that failed to stretch as the abdomen grew to accommodate her ovaries (from Arthropod exoskeleton)
Image 21Ghost crab, showing a variety of integument types in its exoskeleton, with transparent biomineralization over the eyes, strong biomineralization over the pincers, and tough chitin fabric in the joints and the bristles on the legs (from Arthropod exoskeleton)
Image 23In honeypot antrepletes, the abdomens of the workers that hold the sugar solution grow vastly, but only the unsclerotised cuticle can stretch, leaving the unstretched sclerites as dark islands on the clear abdomen (from Arthropod exoskeleton)
Image 24Decapods, from Ernst Haeckel's 1904 work Kunstformen der Natur (from Crustacean)
Image 29Formation of anterior segments across arthropod taxa based on gene expression and neuroanatomical observations, Note the chelicera(Ch) and chelifore(Chf) arose from somite 1 and thus correspond to the first antenna(An/An1) of other arthropods. (from Chelicerata)
The head of a female Clynotis severus species of jumping spider. The eyes of a spider are called simple eyes (as opposed to compound eyes) because in each eye, a single lens collects and focuses light onto the retina. In this spider, the two largest eyes in the middle are the most acute. The remainder on the sides and on the top of its head are "secondary eyes".
Sympetrum danae, the black darter or black meadowhawk, is a species of dragonfly found in northern Europe, Asia, and North America. Both sexes are black and yellow, but the abdomen of the male is largely black while that of the female is largely yellow. Breeding takes place in shallow acidic pools, lake margins and ditches in lowland heaths and moorland bogs. The female lays her eggs during flight by dipping the tip of her abdomen into the water. The eggs hatch the following spring, the larvae developing very rapidly and emerging as adults in as little as two months. The male seen here is perched on a frond of bracken on Warren Heath in Hampshire, England.
The Meadow Argus (Junonia villida) is a species of butterfly native to Australasia. Its brown wings are each covered with two distinctive black and blue eyespots as well as white and orange marks that appear on the edge of the wings. Males and females are similar in appearance and size, with females being slightly larger.
Poli's stellate barnacle (Chthamalus stellatus) is a species of acorn barnacle common on rocky shores in South West England, Ireland, and Southern Europe. It is named after Italian scientist Giuseppe Saverio Poli. Depending upon environmental conditions and the amount of food available, it can reach up to 14 mm (0.55 in) in diameter.
Squilla mantis, a species of mantis shrimp, for sale at the fish auction of l'Ametlla de Mar in Catalonia, Spain. It is native to the Mediterranean Sea and adjacent warm parts of the Atlantic Ocean, where it burrows into muddy and sandy seabeds. It is the only native stomatopod to be fished for on a commercial scale in the Mediterranean.
The Forest scorpion (Cercophonius squama) is a scorpion native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania. The body is 25 to 40 millimetres (0.98 to 1.57 in) long, and coloured creamy yellow to orange brown with dark brown variegations. The legs are yellow with some dark brown pigment.
Attacus taprobanis is a species of moth in the family Saturniidae native to southern India and Sri Lanka. This adult male, photographed in Kadavoor, Kerala, developed from a larva feeding on a mahogany tree. When ready to pupate, the larva formed a papery cocoon 7.5 cm (3 in) long interwoven with a leaf; before doing this, the larva had attached the leaf to the stem with a silken thread and cut the leaf stalk. The colours of the dying leaf provided camouflage for the pupa, and the adult insect emerged some 24 days later.
The head and mandibles of an Australianbull ant. Insect mandibles grasp, crush, or cut the insect’s food, or defend against predators or rivals. These mandibles move in the horizontal plane unlike those of the vertebrates.
Purana tigrina is a species of cicada found in Southeast Asia. This adult male was photographed in Kadavoor, Kerala, in southern India, and is about one inch (25 mm) in length. The mouthparts are adapted to piercing plant tissues and sucking sap; the male abdomen houses the tymbal, an organ used in the production of song, while the female abdomen is tipped by a large, saw-edged ovipositor.
The orb-weaver spiders (family Araneidae) are the familiar builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forests. The family is a large one, including over 2800 species in over 160 genera worldwide, making it the third largest known (behind Salticidae and Linyphiidae). The web has always been thought of as an engineering marvel.
The Ozyptila praticola species of crab spider is found throughout Europe and the Middle East. They do not build webs to trap prey, but are active hunters. Crab spiders are so named because of their first two pairs of legs, which are held out to the side giving them a crab-like appearance. Also, like crabs, these spiders move sideways and backwards more easily than forwards.
The cryptic mantis (Sibylla pretiosa) is a mantid native to southern Africa. Its common name comes from its ability to grow asymmetrically to match the vegetation of its environment. They have unusual leaf-like projections on the joint of their four walking legs and leaf-like wings, generally the only green portion of the insect's otherwise brown and mottled exoskeleton. Adult females grow to 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) in length while the males are generally about 1 cm smaller.
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