Timing the Radiations of Leaf Beetles: Hispines on Gingers from Latest Cretaceous to Recent

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Science  14 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5477, pp. 291-294
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5477.291

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Stereotyped feeding damage attributable solely to rolled-leaf hispine beetles is documented on latest Cretaceous and early Eocene ginger leaves from North Dakota and Wyoming. Hispine beetles (6000 extant species) therefore evolved at least 20 million years earlier than suggested by insect body fossils, and their specialized associations with gingers and ginger relatives are ancient and phylogenetically conservative. The latest Cretaceous presence of these relatively derived members of the hyperdiverse leaf-beetle clade (Chrysomelidae, more than 38,000 species) implies that many of the adaptive radiations that account for the present diversity of leaf beetles occurred during the Late Cretaceous, contemporaneously with the ongoing rapid evolution of their angiosperm hosts.

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