A history of news items from the Engel Lab
(currently only contains content from August 2010 to present)
Latest news...
15 September 2014:
The discovery of Jurassic and Cretaceous species of carrion beetles (Silphidae) has provided insights into the origin and timing of parental care among these today endangered beetles. This is the earliest evidence of parental care, a behavioral repertoire early in the development of social behavior. The fossils reveal the appearance of the stridulatory files used in parent-offspring communication - present in the Cretaceous lineages but primitively absent in those from the Jurassic. These fossils also reveal the origins of defense of small vertebrate carcasses for use by the larvae. Such parental care may have originated from competition between carrion beetles and their predators, including diverse rove beetles. These results were released today in PNAS (HERE).
Cai, C.-Y., M.K. Thayer, M.S. Engel, A.F. Newton, J. Ortega-Blanco, B. Wang, X.-D. Wang, & D.-Y. Huang. 2014. Early origin of parental care in Mesozoic carrion beetles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 111(39): 14170-14174.
14 April 2014: CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Steven R. Davis, who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation (with honors!) on the comparative morphology, phylogeny, and evolutionary developmental biology of weevils.  Steve is departing soon for a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History.
14 November 2013: An account of new Carboniferous Eumetabola, including three holometabolans, highlights the earliest records of the most successful clade to have diversified among animal life.  The report appeared in Nature (HERE). Nel, A., P. Roques, P. Nel, A.A. Prokin, T. Bourgoin, J. Prokop, J. Szwedo, D. Azar, L. Desutter-Grandcolas, T. Wappler, R. Garrouste, D. Coty, D. Huang, M.S. Engel, & A.G. Kirejtshuk. 2013. The earliest known holometabolous insects. Nature 503(7475): 257-261.
16 September 2013: Today we hit a milestone few labs pass with the appearance of our 500th published paper.  For a complete list of publications by M.S. Engel refer to the links provided on our Publications page.
25 April 2013:
The long-awaited Treatise on the Isoptera of the World was published today in seven volumes. The work is the first to treat the entire living and fossil fauna of termites, with a consideration of the history of isopterology, the comparative morphology of termites, a review of their phylogeny and evolutionary history, summary of pest species, and revised suprageneric classification. It also includes a fully annotated and revised taxonomic catalog for the termites, living and extinct.
Krishna, K., D.A. Grimaldi, V. Krishna, & M.S. Engel. 2013. Treatise on the Isoptera of the world. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 377: 1-2704.
20 February 2013:
The discovery of male and female Strashilidae, including individuals in copula and with their fully-developed dipteran wings, reveal conclusively that this is a family of nematoceran flies related to Nymphomyiidae and that, like nymphomyiids, were amphibious and shed their wings. The male hind legs, as is common among different insect lineages, were modified for grasping the female. Utterly unfounded notions of strashilids as ectoparasites are based on fanciful hypotheses devoid of evidence or rational reasoning. These results were released today in Nature (HERE).
Huang, D., A. Nel, C. Cai, Q. Lin, & M.S. Engel. 2013. Amphibious flies and paedomorphism in the Jurassic period. Nature 495(7439): 94-97.
12 December 2012: The discovery of a larval green lacewing in Early Cretaceous amber from Spain complete with its camouflage covering of plant trichomes was reported today in PNAS (HERE). Pérez-de la Fuente, R., X. Delclos, E. Peñalver, M. Speranza, J. Wierzchos, C. Ascaso, & M.S. Engel. 2012. Early evolution and ecology of camouflage in insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 109(52): 21414-21419.
2 August 2012: The discovery of a complete insect from the Late Devonian of Belgium, one of only a small handful of definite records of the entire class from this period, was reported today in Nature (HERE). Garrouste, R., G. Clement, P. Nel, M.S. Engel, P. Grandcolas, C. D'Haese, L. Lagebro, J. Denayer, P. Gueriau, P. Lafaite, S. Olive, C. Prestianni, & A. Nel. 2012. A complete insect from the Late Devonian period. Nature 488(7409): 82-85.
1 March 2012: The discovery of giant fleas from the Jurassic and Cretaceous highlight the earliest evidence of the lineage of these familiar ectoparasites. The discovery was reported today in Nature (HERE). Huang, D., M.S. Engel, C. Cai, H. Wu, & A. Nel. 2012. Diverse transitional giant fleas from the Mesozoic era of China. Nature 483(7388): 201-204. Listen (here) to the interview from "Quirks & Qarks" on CBC Radio. This discovery was highlighted in the top 100 scientific discoveries of 2012 by Discover Magazine (January-February 2013 issue).

6 February 2012
: The discovery of a katydid from the Jurassic with its stridulatory structures exceptionally well preserved was reported in PNAS (HERE). The specimen permitted a biomechanical and bioacoustical reconstruction of its call, revealing that the species produced a pure-tone (musical) call. Gu, J.-J., F. Montealegre-Z., D. Robert, M.S. Engel, G.-X. Qiao, & D. Ren. 2012. Wing stridulation in a Jurassic katydid (Insecta, Orthoptera) produced low-pitched musical calls to attract females. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109(10): 3868-3873.

21 November 2011: Contributions Celebrating Kumar Krishna (edited by M.S. Engel). Check it out HERE. A 332 page volume of contributions focusing on the systematics and biology of Isoptera, as well as papers on Embiodea, Orthoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera, were published today. These papers are brought together by friends, colleagues, and admirers of Prof. Dr. Kumar Krishna, in recognition of his multiplicity of accomplishments in termite systematics and biology as well as the enormous influence his work, generosity, and kindness has had on all of us.

24 September 2011: Advances in the Systematics of Fossil and Modern Insects: Honouring Alexandr Rasnitsyn (edited by D.E. Shcherbakov, M.S. Engel, & M.J. Sharkey). Check it out HERE. A 542 page volume of contributions to the systematics of living and fossil insects was released on 24 September, the 75th birthday of the great hymenopteran systematist Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn (and 40th birthday of M.S. Engel). Contributions to many orders of insects are included, but particularly a diversity of lineages among the Hymenoptera.
4 April 2011: The discovery of the oldest full-body impression, trace fossil of a flying insect was reported on today in PNAS and in the 5 April 2011 Science Times of the New York Times (HERE). The trace fossil is from the Late Carboniferous of Massachusetts.  Knecht, R.J., M.S. Engel, & J.S. Benner. 2011. Late Carboniferous paleoichnology reveals the oldest full-body impression of a flying insect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 108(16): 6515-6519.

23 March 2011: An isotope analysis of modern resin exuded from mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) attacks reveals 13C enrichment signals that track the progression of infestation and instances of recovery. These same signals are found in ancient resins (amber) and provide insight concerning the genesis of amber deposits.  Read more HERE: McKellar, R.C., A.P. Wolfe, K. Muehlenbachs, R. Tappert, M.S. Engel, T. Cheng, & G.A. Sanchez-Azofeifa. 2011. Insect outbreaks produce distinctive carbon isotope signatures in defensive resins and fossiliferous ambers. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B, Biological Sciences 278(1722): 3219-3224.

6 December 2010: CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Daniel J. Bennett, who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on the comparative morphology, phylogeny, classification, and behavior of crabronine wasps. Dan is now a faculty member and curator at Stephen F. Austin State University.
10 November 2010: CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Ismael A. Hinojosa-Díaz, who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on the comparative morphology, phylogeny, classification, and ecological niche modeling of orchid bees. Ismael is now a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University.  

25 October 2010: A new, highly fossiliferous amber deposit from the Early Eocene of India has been published in PNAS and is reported on HERERust, J., H. Singh, R.S. Rana, T. McCann, L. Singh, K. Anderson, N. Sarkar, P.C. Nascimbene, F. Stebner, J.C. Thomas, M. Solorzano-Kraemer, C.J. Williams, M.S. Engel, A. Sahni, & D. Grimaldi. 2010. Biogeographic and evolutionary implications of a diverse paleobiota in amber from the early Eocene of India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 107(43): 18360-18365.
30 August 2010: The discovery of Jurassic-aged lacewings exhibiting forewing mimicry of gymnospermous plants has been published with PNAS and is reported on HERE and HERE: Wang, Y.-J., Z.-Q. Liu, X. Wang, C.-K. Shih, Y.-Y. Zhao, M.S. Engel, & D. Ren. 2010. Ancient pinnate leaf mimesis among lacewings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 107(37): 16212-16215.  This discovery was featured in "Research Highlights" of the 9 September 2010 issue of Nature: Leaf-like history of lacewings. Nature 467: 134.