Paleontology

Dino dung beetles

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Science  17 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6292, pp. 1422-1423
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6292.1422-d

Dinosaur dung led to dung beetle diversity.

PHOTO: JERZY GUBERNATOR/SCIENCE SOURCE

Insects are one of the most speciose groups, and the rise in their diversity has often been attributed to the rise of angiosperms. However, not all insects are herbivores, and the scarab family of beetles is a notably diverse example. Gunter et al. asked what drove this family's high levels of speciation and found that the monophyletic group's diversification also appears to be indirectly connected to the emergence of angiosperms. In particular, they found that dung beetles experienced a rapid radiation at about the time that angiosperms became a part of dinosaur diets. Thus, the rise of more easily digestible angiosperms allowed beetles to process dung long before the rise of mammals.

PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0153570 (2016).

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