Male Mosquitoes with Piercing Mouthparts Found in 125-Million-Year-Old Amber

Paleontologists have discovered a new species of mosquito, Libanoculex intermedius, in 125-million-year-old amber from Lebanon. The find is significant as it extends the definitive occurrence of the mosquito family Culicidae into the Early Cretaceous. Notably, the preserved males of this new species unexpectedly exhibit piercing mouthparts armed with sharp mandibles, suggesting that they were likely hematophagous (blood-feeding).

Discovery Details

  1. Amber Source:
    • The new mosquito specimens were found in Lebanese amber, known for its rich biological inclusions and dating back to the Early Cretaceous.
    • Lebanese amber provides valuable insights into the co-evolution between pollinators and flowering plants.
  2. New Species and Subfamily:
    • The discovered mosquitoes represent a new species, Libanoculex intermedius.
    • They also belong to a new, now-extinct mosquito subfamily named Libanoculicinae.
  3. Piercing Mouthparts:
    • Males of the new species exhibit piercing mouthparts with sharp mandibles, challenging the assumption that only females were hematophagous.
    • The findings suggest that not only were the earliest female mosquitoes hematophagous, but males were also in some cases.
  4. Paleodiversity Insights:
    • Phylogenetic analysis indicates that the newly discovered lineage of mosquitoes diverged earlier than the subfamily Burmaculicinae.
    • The discovery narrows the “ghost-lineage gap” for mosquitoes, providing glimpses into Mesozoic culicid paleodiversity.
  5. Early Cretaceous Presence:
    • The discovery in Early Cretaceous amber, about 125 million years old, predates previous known records and extends the presence of Culicidae in the fossil record.
  6. Research Implications:
    • The findings challenge previous assumptions about the feeding habits of male mosquitoes in the past.
    • Researchers aim to explore the utility of hematophagy in Cretaceous male mosquitoes in future studies.



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