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, 9 (10), e108865

Wing Shape of Four New Bee Fossils (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) Provides Insights to Bee Evolution


Wing Shape of Four New Bee Fossils (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) Provides Insights to Bee Evolution

Manuel Dehon et al. PLoS One.


Bees (Anthophila) are one of the major groups of angiosperm-pollinating insects and accordingly are widely studied in both basic and applied research, for which it is essential to have a clear understanding of their phylogeny, and evolutionary history. Direct evidence of bee evolutionary history has been hindered by a dearth of available fossils needed to determine the timing and tempo of their diversification, as well as episodes of extinction. Here we describe four new compression fossils of bees from three different deposits (Miocene of la Cerdanya, Spain; Oligocene of Céreste, France; and Eocene of the Green River Formation, U.S.A.). We assess the similarity of the forewing shape of the new fossils with extant and fossil taxa using geometric morphometrics analyses. Predictive discriminant analyses show that three fossils share similar forewing shapes with the Apidae [one of uncertain tribal placement and perhaps near Euglossini, one definitive bumble bee (Bombini), and one digger bee (Anthophorini)], while one fossil is more similar to the Andrenidae. The corbiculate fossils are described as Euglossopteryx biesmeijeri De Meulemeester, Michez, & Engel, gen. nov. sp. nov. (type species of Euglossopteryx Dehon & Engel, n. gen.) and Bombus cerdanyensis Dehon, De Meulemeester, & Engel, sp. nov. They provide new information on the distribution and timing of particular corbiculate groups, most notably the extension into North America of possible Eocene-Oligocene cooling-induced extinctions. Protohabropoda pauli De Meulemeester & Michez, gen. nov. sp. nov. (type species of Protohabropoda Dehon & Engel, n. gen.) reinforces previous hypotheses of anthophorine evolution in terms of ecological shifts by the Oligocene from tropical to mesic or xeric habitats. Lastly, a new fossil of the Andreninae, Andrena antoinei Michez & De Meulemeester, sp. nov., further documents the presence of the today widespread genus Andrena Fabricius in the Late Oligocene of France.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Left forewing of Melitta leporina with the 18 landmarks selected to describe the shape.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Generic taxonomic affinity of the two new fossils associated with the tribes Bombini and Anthophorini.
A. Ordination of the Bombini and Bombus cerdanyensis sp. nov. along the first two axes of the PCA (PC1 = 32% and PC 2 = 19%). B. Ordination of the Anthophorini and Protohabropoda pauli gen. nov. sp. nov. along the first two axes of the PCA (PC1: 59%; PC2: 16%).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Euglossopteryx biesmeijeri gen. nov sp. nov.
Dorsal view (photographs by N. J. Vereecken).
Figure 4
Figure 4. Bombus cerdanyensis sp. nov.
A. General habitus. B. Detail of the left forewing. C. Detail of the middle leg on the imprint of the compression (photographs by T. De Meulemeester).
Figure 5
Figure 5. Protohabropoda pauli gen. nov. sp. nov.
A. General habitus. B. Detail of wing. C. Detail of the head. D. Detail of the scopa (photographs by T. De Meulemeester).
Figure 6
Figure 6. Male of Andrena antoinei sp. nov.
A. General habitus. B. Detail of the wing. C. Detail of the head. D. Detail of the abdomen and the hind legs (photographs by T. De Meulemeester).

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Grant support

Funding provided by Naturalis Biodiversity Museum, Leiden, The Netherlands. Represented by Dr. Thibaut and De Meulemeester. The NBC allowed the authors to do a sampling of diverse bee tribes with three submarginal cells. Funding also provided by the Division of Entomology, University of Kansas, Kansas, United States of America. Represented by Prof. Engel. This co-funder provided us one of the four fossils described and analysed: Euglossopteryx biesmeijeri sp. nov.