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A paper describing the work appears on April 16 in the journal eLife.
Symbiotic relationships between two species have arisen repeatedly during animal evolution. These relationships range from mutually beneficial associations, like humans and their pet dogs, to the parasitic, like a tapeworm and its host.
Examples - Symbiosis - Ants - Types - Insects
Some of the most complex examples of behavioral symbiosis occur between ants and other types of small insects called myrmecophiles -- meaning "ant lovers." Thanks to ants' abilities to form complex social colonies, they are able to repel predators and amass food resources, making ant nests a highly desirable habitat. Myrmecophiles display elaborate social behaviors and chemical adaptations to deceive ants and live among them, reaping the benefits of a safe environment and plentiful food.
Ants' social behaviors first appear in the fossil record 99 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, and are believed to have evolved not long before, in the Early Cretaceous. Now, the discovery of a Cretaceous myrmecophile fossil implies that the freeloading insects were already taking advantage of ants' earliest societies. The finding means that myrmecophiles have been a constant presence among ant colonies from their earliest origins and that this socially parasitic lifestyle can persist over vast expanses of evolutionary time.
Relationship - Symbiosis - Kingdom - Parker - Fossil
"This beetle-ant relationship is the most ancient behavioral symbiosis now known in the animal kingdom," says Parker. "This fossil shows us that symbiosis can be a very successful long-term survival strategy for animal lineages."
The fossilized beetle,...
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